Non-Invasive Explosives Detection and Identification

The detection and identification of concealed explosive threats is one of the greatest challenges facing the defense and security communities. There is a clear need for a technology that is able to address this problem in an accurate and safe manner. Terahertz radiation has attracted much attention as a potential solution. Terahertz radiation is able to pass through many common materials such as paper, plastic, and fabric much like X-rays, but unlike X-rays, THz radiation is non-ionizing and is safe to use in the direct screening of people. Also unlike X-ray methods, THz radiation is able to provide unambiguous chemical identification of concealed explosives through the interaction of the THz radiation with the unique crystalline lattice vibrations of these materials. The chemical specificity and non-invasive nature of THz spectroscopy enables the rapid discrimination of innocuous and hazardous materials (for example, two white powders such as sucrose vs. TNT) while minimizing the occurrence of false positives.

Selected publications:

Wilkinson, John; Konek, Christopher T.; Moran, Jesse S.; Witko, Ewelina M.; Korter, Timothy M..  Terahertz absorption spectrum of triacetone triperoxide (TATP). Chemical Physics Letters  (2009),  478(4-6),  172-174. DOI: 10.1016/j.cplett.2009.07.079

Allis, Damian G.; Zeitler, J. Axel; Taday, Philip F.; Korter, Timothy M..  Theoretical analysis of the solid-state terahertz spectrum of the high explosive RDX. Chemical Physics Letters  (2008),  463(1-3),  84-89. DOI: 10.1016/j.cplett.2008.08.014