COUNTERTERRORISM

Research Could Lead to Pocket-Sized Bomb Detectors

3/1/2011
By Eric Beidel
Soldiers eventually may have a pocket-sized device to warn them of nearby improvised explosive devices or suicide bombers.

That is the ultimate goal of university researchers trying to figure out a way to use sound and radio waves to detect bombs.

The technique is similar to that used to detect landmines or oil reserves, said Douglas Adams, a mechanical engineering professor at Purdue University, which is part of the $7 million initiative funded by the Office of Naval Research and led by North Carolina State University.

The trick is to employ acoustics to penetrate an object that will then vibrate, making it detectable by other sensors such as radar. Researchers at Purdue will use a three-dimensional laser vibrometer to study the behavior of sound waves as they pass through materials. But that’s not necessarily the device soldiers would have in theater. The aim of the current research is simply to understand the best way to project energy into an object and observe how it behaves once inside.

The ultimate goal would be to build tools that soldiers could carry to detect IEDs in theater by delivering acoustic energy from a safe distance, Adams said.

Topics: Bomb and Warhead, Improvised Explosive Devices

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