Field Tests of Explosives Detector Successful

1/29/1996 - 9-96r
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Quantum Magnetics, Inc., of San Diego, California, report s that field trials of a new explosives detection scanner based on the NRL-developed technology, nuclear quadrupole resonance (NQR), can detect small amounts of plastic explosive with less than one-percent falls alarm rate.

The field trials, which began in mid-November at Los Angeles International Airport, were designed to help gauge the efficiency of the scanner under actual conditions. The scanner replaced an x-ray system on an inter-airline baggage handling line, where four thousand bags were scanned during the test period. Quantum Magnetics now hopes to install similar devices, called the Package Scanner, at airports in the United Kingdom.

The Package Scanner was cited by R & D Magazine in 1995 as one of the 100 most technologically significant new products of the year. It was developed by Quantum Magnetics after a patent licensing agreement was signed with NRL in 1993, authorizing he company to develop a commercial detector using the NRL technology.

Scientists in NRL's Chemistry Division began working on NQR technology for explosives detection in 1987, supported by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense. NQR uses low intensity radio waves to probe the molecular structure of package contents. In laboratory settings, the researchers found improved selectivity, sensitivity, and spatial localization over conventional detection systems. Small quantities of explosives and narcotics could be detected against a background of more benign materials.

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