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

Feb 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: New insights found in black hole collisions

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A revolutionary breakthrough in terahertz remote sensing

Jul 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 ...

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 ...

Recommended for you

New insights found in black hole collisions

22 hours ago

New research provides revelations about the most energetic event in the universe—the merging of two spinning, orbiting black holes into a much larger black hole.

X-rays probe LHC for cause of short circuit

22 hours ago

The LHC has now transitioned from powering tests to the machine checkout phase. This phase involves the full-scale tests of all systems in preparation for beam. Early last Saturday morning, during the ramp-down, ...

Swimming algae offer insights into living fluid dynamics

Mar 27, 2015

None of us would be alive if sperm cells didn't know how to swim, or if the cilia in our lungs couldn't prevent fluid buildup. But we know very little about the dynamics of so-called "living fluids," those ...

Fluctuation X-ray scattering

Mar 26, 2015

In biology, materials science and the energy sciences, structural information provides important insights into the understanding of matter. The link between a structure and its properties can suggest new ...

Hydrodynamics approaches to granular matter

Mar 26, 2015

Sand, rocks, grains, salt or sugar are what physicists call granular media. A better understanding of granular media is important - particularly when mixed with water and air, as it forms the foundations of houses and off-shore ...

User comments : 1

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.