A Beam That Detects IED's At A Distance

A Beam That Detects IED's At A Distance

Improvised explosive devices are far and away the single biggest killer of coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, so the ability to identify hidden explosive threats is key to keeping soldiers safe. A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a tool that could detect roadside bombs from afar, using nothing more than a laser with an energy output of a presentation pointer. Using light to detect the chemical compositions of molecules from afar is not a new idea, but doing so in uncontrolled environments--particularly in urban environments where the ambient air is cluttered with particulate matter--is extremely difficult. The vast array of compounds in the air can easily cover the telltale signs of an explosive device, and distinguishing between the molecular residues of explosives and various similar benign molecules makes the problem even more daunting.

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