Detecting Concealed Explosives

Federici, Barat, Goode
Professors John Federici, Robert Barat and Dale Gary are exploring uses of terahertz radiation.

A team of researchers at NJIT is working to develop a technology capable of monitoring and detecting concealed explosives and biological agents that may pose a threat to people, buildings, mass transportation or other environments. With funding from the National Science Foundation and the Army Research Office, John Federici and Dale Gary, professors of physics, and Robert Barat, professor of chemical engineering, are exploring the use of terahertz (THz) electromagnetic radiation to detect and identify explosives and biological agents by means of a spectroscope. Picometrix, Inc., of Ann Arbor, Mich., a manufacturer of high-speed optical receivers and ultrafast instrumentation, is collaborating on the project.


Terahertz radiation occupies of the far-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. What makes THz technology an attractive method of detection is its ability to detect biological agents and explosives through their characteristic transmission or reflectivity spectra in the Terahertz (THz) range. In essence, these materials appear as different "colors" to the THz radiation. Explosives and biological agents can be detected even if they are concealed in clothing, sealed packages, suitcases, since THz radiation is readily transmitted through plastics, clothing, luggage, paper products, walls, and other non-metals.