Better remote-sensing explosive detectors: The beginning of the end of full-body scanners?

February 26, 2014

Standing in a full-body scanner at an airport isn't fun, and the process adds time and stress to a journey. It also raises privacy concerns. Researchers now report in ACS' The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters a more precise and direct method for using that "terahertz" (THz) technology to detect explosives from greater distances. The advance could ultimately lead to detectors that survey a wider area of an airport without the need for full-body scanners.

R. Kosloff and colleagues explain that using THz spectroscopy by itself is challenging for sensing far-away explosives. This technology uses beams of electromagnetic radiation that lie between microwaves, like those used in kitchen ovens, and the infrared rays used in TV remote controls. In addition to screening people for explosives, it is used at drug companies for quality-control purposes and, most recently, to study the layers of paint of ancient works of art. With recent advances, the technique is becoming a strong candidate for detecting substances from a distance. Other researchers have developed remote-sensing THz instruments, but they combine it with a second method to identify substances. Kosloff's group aimed to use THz directly to eventually develop even better remote sensors.

They developed a computational tool and used it to successfully identify two explosives, RDX and TATP, with THz data directly. RDX is a component of , and TATP is an explosive found in the shoes of the "shoe bomber" in 2009. "The ability to perform experimentally and simulate multidimensional spectroscopy should significantly enhance the screening ability of THz spectroscopy," say the researchers.

Explore further: NJIT physicist sees terahertz imaging as ultimate defense against terrorism

Related Stories

A revolutionary breakthrough in terahertz remote sensing

July 11, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A major breakthrough in remote wave sensing by a team of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute researchers opens the way for detecting hidden explosives, chemical, biological agents and illegal drugs from a distance ...

Photonics: strong vibrations

May 10, 2012

A new approach to generating terahertz radiation will lead to new imaging and sensing applications. The low energy of the radiation means that it can pass through materials that are otherwise opaque, opening up uses in imaging ...

Recommended for you

'Expansion entropy': A new litmus test for chaos?

July 28, 2015

Can the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas? This intriguing hypothetical scenario, commonly called "the butterfly effect," has come to embody the popular conception of a chaotic system, in which ...

Lobster-Eye imager detects soft X-ray emissions

July 28, 2015

Solar winds are known for powering dangerous space weather events near Earth, which, in turn, endangers space assets. So a large interdisciplinary group of researchers, led by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration ...

New blow for 'supersymmetry' physics theory

July 27, 2015

In a new blow for the futuristic "supersymmetry" theory of the universe's basic anatomy, experts reported fresh evidence Monday of subatomic activity consistent with the mainstream Standard Model of particle physics.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

indio007
5 / 5 (1) Feb 26, 2014
Body scanners aren't going anywhere. Their purpose isn't detection of anything. The purpose is desensitization to having your privacy violated.
They are for sheeple training.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.