NRL Receives Patent for NQR System

5/26/2000 - 30-00r
Contact: Public Affairs Office, (202) 767-2541

The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has received a patent (US 6,054,856) for a specialized detection coil used in a nuclear quadrupole resonance (NQR) system for detecting narcotics and explosives in luggage, mail, boxes, or on a person. A similar NQR system has been field tested at airports in the United States and overseas.

The geometry of the patented coil causes electrical and magnetic noise to be canceled, providing a larger signal-to-noise ratio in the NQR signal from the object being tested. Because of its immunity to external electrical and magnetic environmental noise, an NQR detection system with the NRL-patented coil does not require external radio frequency (RF) shielding, and would be more practical and suitable for field use.

NQR is an RF spectroscopic technique, related to nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). However, no large magnet is required in NQR. The specimen is irradiated with RF energy at specific frequencies, and the size of the return signal indicates the presence or absence of known explosives and narcotics.

NRL's Dr. Allen Garroway and his colleagues pioneered the practical use of NQR for explosives and narcotics detection by successfully addressing the technical issues required to take NQR out of the laboratory and into the field.

This work has been funded since 1987 by the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Defense to advance U.S. capabilities in antiterrorism and antidrug efforts and in landmine detection. Explosives detection systems for package and baggage scanning in airports and other fixed sites have been built by Quantum Magnetics, a subsidiary of InVision Technologies, under NRL license.

This technology provides a major advancement in the state of the art for explosives and narcotics detection, and a potential break through for the detection of land mines. In 1997, the Gore Commission (White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security) recommended that NQR systems be purchased and deployed to enhance security at U.S. airports.

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The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory provides the advanced scientific capabilities required to bolster our country's position of global naval leadership. The Laboratory, with a total complement of approximately 2,500 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, D.C., with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Monterey, Calif. NRL has served the Navy and the nation for over 90 years and continues to advance research further than you can imagine. For more information, visit the NRL website or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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