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Bomb scares: An ODD solution
Date:5/21/2010

chemicals, each with a unique optical fingerprint. To minimize false alarms, a detector must be both sensitive and selective.

The ODD project began in the summer of 2008, when researchers from Princeton University and Los Alamos National Laboratory pitched the concept to S&T. As a result, the Directorate signed a contract to fund research at the two labs for a proof of concept. A year and a half later, after several rounds of successful tests, researchers have successfully demonstrated the science of ODD. The goal now: to develop a portable prototype in the next three years that can be field-tested.

But the real eye-opener is the science. "At this risk of oversimplifying, this is quantum control applied to explosives detection," warns Houser.

Here's how ODD works:

  1. A bomb technician beams a "raw" laser pulse toward a suspicious bag, looking for a specific explosive.

  2. The pulse passes through an electro-optical filter, gaining clarity as it is bent through lenses, reflected by mirrors and amplified by chips. When the technician tunes the laser to a new frequency, the filter reshapes the laser's pulse. As it is bent, reflected, and electronically processed, the pulse changes amplitude.

  3. The shaped pulse hits the chemical environment around the lunchbox and excites the energy state of the material of interest, emitting an energy "signature." Since the pulse was precisely defined, so is the signature.

  4. A second laser, called an analyzing "probe," is beamed through the excited molecules, measuring its spectrum. The probe beam passes into an electro-optical detector stationed on the other side of the target.

  5. The pulse laser's final shape is stored and analyzed. If the signature looks like that of an explosive, it can conclusively be traced to the explosive molecules that emitted it, which may be found on the bag's fabric or zipper.

In this way, ODD reduce
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Contact: John Verrico
john.verrico@dhs.gov
202-527-3625
US Department of Homeland Security - Science and Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

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