• Detecting explosives, not toothpaste

    Researchers want airports, border checkpoints, and others to detect homemade explosives made with hydrogen peroxide without nabbing people whose toothpaste happens to contain peroxide. This is part of the challenge faced in developing a portable sensor to detect a common homemade explosive called a FOx (fuel/oxidizer) mixture, made by mixing hydrogen peroxide with fuels.

  • Highly sensitive polymer detects IEDs

    A chemical which is often the key ingredient in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) can be quickly and safely detected in trace amounts by a new polymer created by a team of Cornell University chemists. The polymer, which potentially could be used in low-cost, handheld explosive detectors and could supplement or replace bomb-sniffing dogs.

  • DHS debars scanner maker from government contracts

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has sent OSI Systems, the manufacturer of airport body scanners, a debarment notice which would prevent the company from receiving government contacts in the future. The notice was sent to the company after TSA determined that the company had failed to address security concerns about its scanners.

  • Terahertz technology helps to see more with less

    Terahertz technology is an emerging field which promises to improve a host of useful applications, ranging from passenger scanning at airports to huge digital data transfers. Terahertz radiation sits between the frequency bands of microwaves and infrared radiation, and it can easily penetrate many materials, including biological tissue. The energy carried by terahertz radiation is low enough to pose no risk to the subject or object under investigation.

  • Kenya police: (fake) bomb detectors work, making Kenyans safer

    A British businessman was convicted of selling Iraq and Afghanistan fake bomb detectors – the two countries used millions of dollars in U.S. aid money to purchase the sham devices (the devices were, in fact, $20 golf ball finders which the businessman sold for $40,000 each). The police in Kenya purchased twenty-six of the sham detectors, but Nairobi police chief says the devices work, and that Kenya is safer for them.

  • U.K. businessman convicted of selling fake explosives detectors

    James McCormick, a British businessman, was convicted of having made millions in profits from selling fake bomb detectors to Iraq, Georgia, and several other countries. McCormick bought $20 golf ball finders in the United States, then sold the devices, which had no working electronics, for $40,000 each. The Iraqi government used more than $40 million in U.S. aid money to buy 6,000 of the devices, despite being warned by the U.S. military that the devices were a sham. The Iraqi military used the fake detectors at check-points, leading to scores of soldiers and civilians being killed by suicide trucks which went through the check points undetected. The police in Kenya says it will continue to use the devices.

  • New fertilizer can be used to grow food – but not build bombs

    Ammonium nitrate fertilizer is used in agriculture, but when mixed with a fuel such as diesel, it is highly explosive. It was used in about 65 percent of the 16,300 homemade IEDs in Afghanistan in 2012.About 1,900 troops were killed or wounded in IED attacks in 2012, 60 percent of American combat casualties. There have been more than 17,000 global IED incidents in 123 countries in the past two years. Timothy McVeigh used ammonium nitrate in Oklahoma City in 1995. Scientists have developed a fertilizer that helps plants grow but cannot detonate a bomb.

  • A more powerful terahertz imaging system developed

    Low-energy terahertz radiation could potentially enable doctors to see deep into tissues without the damaging effects of X-rays, or allow security guards to identify chemicals in a package without opening it. An electrical engineering research team has developed a laser-powered terahertz source and detector system which transmits with fifty times more power and receives with thirty times more sensitivity than existing technologies. This offers 1,500 times more powerful systems for imaging and sensing applications.

  • Lawmakers call on TSA to reverse knife rule

    Two leading lawmakers have called on TSA to reverse its ruling which would allow passengers to bring some types of knives with them on board. “The attacks on September 11, 2001, demonstrated that in the confined environment of an airplane, even a small blade in the hands of a terrorist can lead to disaster,” Rep. Ed Markey (S-Mass.) — who is running for the U.S. Senate seat recently vacated by John Kerry – wrote TSA director John Pistole.

  • June workshop on approaches to CBRNE incidents

    NIST-organized workshop will explore ways to improve an all-of-government approach that increases resilience to international chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive (CBRNE) incidents.

  • New explosives vapor detection technology

    Novel explosives detection method focuses on direct, real-time vapor detection rather than collection of explosives particles. It could change paradigm for explosives screening.

  • Increasing the sensitivity of airport security screening

    The latest episode in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions podcast series reports a simple way to improve the sensitivity of the test often used to detect traces of explosives on the hands, carry-ons, and other possessions of passengers at airport security screening stations.

  • Revealing full-body scanners to be removed from airports

    One of the more controversial post-9/11 security devices, the ubiquitous and uncomfortably intrusive full-body scanners, will be removed from service by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). On Friday, the agency announced it would begin to remove the scanners from U.S. airports this summer. The anatomically revealing backscatter scanners are being replaced by the ore discreet millimeter wave devices.

  • Portable X-ray source offers a mobile terrorism prevention tool

    The hand-held scanners, or tricorders, of the Star Trek movies and television series are one step closer to reality now that a engineers have invented a compact source of X-rays and other forms of radiation; the radiation source, which is the size of a stick of gum, could be used to create inexpensive and portable X-ray scanners for use by doctors, as well as to fight terrorism and smuggling and aid exploration on this planet and others

  • A dandelion-shaped device to help in demining operations

    Decades of war have left land mines buried all over the Afghan countryside; they continue to go off, killing and maiming hundreds of  innocent people every year; last year alone, more than 812 people were wounded or killed in Afghanistan because of mines left behind after the armies retreated; two Afghan inventors designed a dandelion-like device for demining operations