Detecting bombs with laser guns
While bombs get more complicated, identifying them is still pretty simple: someone, or increasingly something, has to get close to it.
Soon bomb squads could safely tell if a suspicious package is an explosive, and from up to 100 meters (328 feet) away, using a laser system developed by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
(…)The system is based on on a series of quantum cascade, solid state lasers. Each laser sends out a pulse of light in specific infrared frequencies.
When the lasers hit an object coated with residue from explosives, the light scatters. Some of it bounces back and is picked up by quartz crystals, which act like tuning forks, changing the electromagnetic waves into acoustic waves.
By determining which quartz crystals are activated, and running that specific activation signature through a computer with the chemical signatures of known explosive agents, the system can determine which type of explosive was used.
Looks like it’s going to save a lot of lives.