INVENTION: John Atkins
INVENTION: John Atkins

A BARNARD Castle product designer has been part of a team which has developed a device crucial to counteracting nuclear terrorism.

John Atkins, who has helped to design products for the likes of Samsung, Vtech and Roberts Radio, helped produce the D3S, which can be carried in the pocket of policemen, firefighters and other emergency workers to detect radioactive materials.

The D3S was built by Kromtek, a British-based company where Mr Atkins is a product designer, for the US government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Mr Atkins said: “This project was to work in collaboration with some US companies for Vincent Tang who is a programme manager for DARPA. I was involved from the inception to delivery of 10,000 units to DARPA with a pilot test in Washington DC.”

The device has now also been deployed by the European Commission counter terrorism unit for the directorate general for home affairs in Brussels. Mr Atkins, who graduated from Teesside University with a degree in industrial design in 2005 and later earned a masters degree in computer aided engineering, added that the D3S had been used during a recent NATO security summit as well as US president Donald Trump’s visit to Brussels.

The 36-year-old said: “It’s an immense feeling of pride to be part of a team of highly talented and dedicated physicists and engineers based here in the North East to create something that really is worthy to worldwide security and defence.”

Mr Atkins recently returned to his hometown of Barnard Castle after several years working in Hong Kong and London. The D3S forms part of a bigger system that can identify chemical, biological, explosives and nuclear components.