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Finding explosives with laser beams
Date:2/27/2012

searchers at TU Vienna collaborated with private companies and with partners in public safety, including The Spanish Guardia Civil who are are extremely interested in the new technology. During the project, the Austrian military was also involved. On their testing grounds the researchers from TU Vienna could put their method to the extreme. They tested frequently used explosives, such as TNT, ANFO or RDX. The tests were highly successful: "Even at a distance of more than a hundred meters, the substances could be detected reliably", says Engelene Chrysostom (TU Vienna).

Seeing Through Walls

Raman spectroscopy over long distances even works if the sample is hidden in a nontransparent container. The laser beam is scattered by the container wall, but a small portion of the beam penetrates the box. There, in the sample, it can still excite Raman-scattering processes. "The challenge is to distinguish the container's light signal from the sample signal", says Bernhard Lendl. This can be done using a simple geometric trick: The laser beam hits the container on a small, well-defined spot. Therefore, the light signal emitted by the container stems from a very small region. The light which enters the container, on the other hand, is scattered into a much larger region. If the detector telescope is not exactly aimed at the point at which the laser hits the container but at a region just a few centimeters away, the characteristic light signal of the contents can be measured instead of the signal coming from the container.

The new method could make security checks at the airport a lot easier but the area of application is much wider. The method could be used wherever it is hard to get close to the subject of investigation. It could be just as useful for studying icebergs as for geological analysis on a Mars mission. In the chemical industry, a broad range of possible applications could be opened up.


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Contact: Florian Aigner
florian.aigner@tuwien.ac.at
43-158-801-41027
Vienna University of Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

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Finding explosives with laser beams
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