PNNL science, technology help keep America safe

RICHLAND, Wash. - A holographic imaging system that scans people at airports for hidden weapons, a device that looks for threats and contraband in sealed containers, and an innovative polymer that helps detect nerve agents are among the many counter-terrorism technologies under development at the Department of Energys Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

PNNL engineers are demonstrating the technologies today at DOEs technology expo held in the Forrestal Building, in Washington, D.C.

Looking for hidden objects with AID

The Acoustic Inspection Device, or AID, originally was developed by PNNL for U.S. and Russian chemical weapons bilateral treaty verification and for inspection of chemical weapon stockpiles in Iraq following the 1991 Gulf War. A handheld device roughly the size and shape of a large flare gun and containing a sensor head, the AID is tethered to a personal digital assistant, linked to a data library and can determine the contents of sealed, liquid-filled containers. It also can examine bulk-solid commodities, detecting foreign objects, contraband or hidden explosives. Mehl, Griffin and Bartek, located in Arlington, Va., currently is customizing AID for the U. S. Customs Service. A similar version of the device now is being used along the borders in Eastern Europe for detecting smuggled goods. The sensor, which transmits ultrasonic pulses and detects any return echoes, is positioned on the outside wall of a container. As sound waves are transmitted, the return echoes bouncing off the other side of the container are analyzed to identify the characteristics of the contents and compare those features against information in the data library, thereby allowing the inspector to identify the material or liquid contents. In addition to characterization and detection, AID can measure the level of liquid in a container.

Airport scanner detects hidden plastics, metals

The millimeter

Contact: Staci Maloof
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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