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New laser tech could detect roadside bombs


September 19, 2011

A new system that utilizes laser light to detect the presence of explosive compounds could be used to identify roadside bombs

A new system that utilizes laser light to detect the presence of explosive compounds could be used to identify roadside bombs

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Approximately sixty percent of coalition soldier deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs), placed along the roads. Because these bombs are often planted in public areas, it is important to detect them in a way that doesn't harm the surrounding infrastructure, or unnecessarily require civilians to evacuate nearby buildings. Researchers from Michigan State University believe that a laser-based system that they developed could fit the bill.

The laser itself is similar in output to a simple presentation pointer. Used in conjunction with a camera, it would direct both short and long pulses of light at suspicious objects or areas. The short molecules cause the molecules of explosive substances to vibrate, while the longer pulses are used to "read" those vibrations, which are unique to each explosive substance.

One of the challenges of field detection of explosives is the fact that there are so many similar chemical compounds present in the environment, and they can mask the sought-after molecules. Using the laser system, however, even a billionth of a gram of explosives can reportedly be detected.

The Michigan State technology is now being developed by spin-off company BioPhotonic Solutions. A similar system is currently being researched at Princeton University.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

sounds cool, does the device penetrate tarmac, etc... I hope they install it in airport baggage scanners soon. Could it be mounted in UAVs and track people carrying the explosives before they plant them, perhaps then they could track right back to source and solve the problem totally?


A promising development. Let\'s hope it can reduce the number of deaths of conscripts and regular soldiers here in turkey as well as Afghanistan.

PS anyone know what the trucks in the photo are? I want one for a birthday present! :-)


Re; agulesin I\'m not an expert, but they look like an Oshkosh Truck HEMTT or PLS

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