Military

New laser tech could detect roadside bombs

New laser tech could detect ro...
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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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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A new system that utilizes laser light to detect the presence of explosive compounds could be used to identify roadside bombs
Michigan State University's Marcos Dantus is leading the development of the laser-based explosives detection system (Photo: MSU)
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Michigan State University's Marcos Dantus is leading the development of the laser-based explosives detection system (Photo: MSU)

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.

Michigan State University's Marcos Dantus is leading the development of the laser-based explosives detection system (Photo: MSU)
Michigan State University's Marcos Dantus is leading the development of the laser-based explosives detection system (Photo: MSU)

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.

3 comments
livin_the_dream
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?
agulesin
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! :-)
Slowburn
Re; agulesin I\'m not an expert, but they look like an Oshkosh Truck HEMTT or PLS