May 28, 2003
Far-Infrared Radiation Bomb Detector Demonstrated

Terahertz far-infrared radiation can be used to detect bomb material in mailed letters and packages.

Novel NIST spectroscopic method can detect terrorist threats A novel technique that uses far-infrared (terahertz) radiation to rapidly identify bulk or airborne materials inside sealed paper or plastic containers has been demonstrated by scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and SPARTA Inc., of Rosslyn, Va. Described at a recent technical conference,* the technology has potential applications in homeland security such as detection of explosives in the mail or other non-metallic portable containers.

The method involves directing a far-infrared light source at a sample in a closed container, detecting the light transmitted through the materials, and then analyzing the light that was absorbed by the sample while making adjustments for the light absorbed by the container. Far-infrared radiation, which falls between visible light and radio waves on the electromagnetic spectrum, is partially transmitted through many materials. The pattern of light frequencies or spectra absorbed by a material depends specifically on the vibrations of the material's atoms and its crystalline structure.

This method can readily identify compounds made of molecules containing three to hundreds of atoms, the size of many threat materials. The two instruments employed, one using a pulsed laser and the other a glowing filament, are tabletop-sized and work at room temperature. Two years of experiments have demonstrated that the technique detects aerosols (such as those that might contain anthrax spores), pharmaceutical powders, most gases, several explosives and other common materials. The researchers have compiled a database of spectral characteristics for more than 100 materials and developed an automated software tool for rapidly identifying bulk materials based on their absorption spectra.

Further research aims to increase the sensitivity and throughput speed of the technology.


Campbell, M.B. and Heilweil, E.J., "Non-invasive detection of weapons of mass destruction using THz radiation," in Proceedings of SPIE Vol. 5070 Terahertz for Military and Security Applications, edited by R. Jennifer Hwu, Dwight Woolard, (SPIE, Bellingham, WA, 2003) in press.

Recall a recent post here about the use of shockwaves in photonic crystals to shift the frequency of a light source. That technique could be used to generate terahertz radiation which is otherwise difficult to generate. Nanotech MEMS devices to generate acoustic shockwaves in photonic crystals could be manufactured to make miniaturized terahertz radiation mail bomb detectors.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2003 May 28 04:02 PM  Dangers Tech General

monem raza said at September 17, 2003 12:55 AM:

Date : 17.09.2003

Attn : Manager

Subject : Tender No. MMP/LP/065//2003(CAPEX), Due on 07.10.2003,
for supply of Mail Bomb Detector/Scanner, Qty = 08 Nos

Dear Sir,

We wish to inform you that Pakistan Petroleum Ltd invited proposal relating to subject inquiry. If you are interested in this business, please confirm by return fax/e-mail, so that we may send you complete tender documents. Your immediate response will be highly appreciated.

Please send your complete products catalogues and also confirm name of person and his mobile number and compnay complete address /telephone/fax etc for our record.

Best Regards
Monem Raza
Syed Bhais Pvt Ltd, 200 Ferozepur Road, P.O.Box. 483, Lahore-54600, Pakistan,
Fax: 92 42 7588199 & 7596203
Tel: 92 42 7588817
Mobile: 92 300 8425636

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