Austrian researchers have come up with laser-based explosives detection technology with a 100+ metre range.
The system's so powerful that it can highlight the presence of explosive material in sealed, opaque containers and it uses the Raman spectroscopy process to project laser beams onto suspicious-looking objects.
The technology can tell an explosive device from something more benign by examining the colour spectrum produced when this beamed light is dispersed. Even though, of the millions of molecules that are scattered, only a handful reach the light detector, the system employs a powerful telescope and high-performance light detectors to analyse the samples.
Long-Range Explosives Detection
Besides the Vienna Institute of Technology - where this long-range explosives detection technique has been developed - a host of other organisations have also been involved in this work. These include the Austrian armed forces and the Spanish Guardia Civil - both of which could employ this system in IED (Improvised Explosive Device) detection work.
Trials employing the system have seen it detect many different explosives types, including RDX, ANFO and TNT. "Even at a distance of more than a hundred meters, the substances could be detected reliably", the Vienna Institute of Technology's Engelene Chrysostom explained in a press release.
Laser-Based Explosives Detection
Potential applications for this laser-based explosives detection technique are many and varied. The air travel industry could be a key user - incorporating it into the array of airport security technologies currently in operation. Chemists, too, could find it very useful, as could geologists, according to the Viennese research team, who have recently applied to get their explosives material detection method patented.
The Raman spectroscopy technique is named after Indian scientist Sir C. V Raman, who discovered it in the late 1920s and, consequently, was awarded the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physics. Since then, a number of versions have been developed, such as SERS (Surface-Enhance Raman Spectroscopy), SRS (Spontaneous Raman Spectroscopy), OTRS (Optical Tweezers Raman Spectroscopy) and RRS (Resonance Raman Spectroscopy).
Image copyright Vienna University of Technology
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