Millimeter-wave screener finds non-metallic weapons

RICHLAND, Wash., 2 Sept. 2005. If you're looking for concealed weapons these days, you need more than x-ray machines and metal detectors. You want something that also will identify non-metallic weapons, or any other threatening object that may be concealed under clothing.

Sep 2nd, 2005

RICHLAND, Wash., 2 Sept. 2005. If you're looking for concealed weapons these days, you need more than x-ray machines and metal detectors. You want something that also will identify non-metallic weapons, or any other threatening object that may be concealed under clothing.

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have developed an innovative screening technology that uses harmless, ultrahigh-frequency radio waves to penetrate clothing and can quickly identify plastic explosives and other types of weapons.

PNNL researcher David M. Sheen presented his results Aug. 30, at the 230th national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C.

The active millimeter-wave technology rapidly scans people and sends reflected signals into a high-speed, image-processing computer, which produces a high-resolution, three-dimensional image.

The scanning technology is rapid, produce an image in less than three seconds. It can be used in a variety of public areas, such as airports, court houses, federal buildings, prisons, embassies, schools, sporting events, mass transit systems and nuclear sites to minimize delays and the indignity of physical searches that are often necessary to resolve ambiguous alarms.

The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory solves complex problems in energy, national security, the environment and life sciences by advancing the understanding of physics, chemistry, biology and computation.

Located in Richland, Wash., PNNL is one of nine national, "multiprogram" laboratories. It employs about 3,900 staff members and has an annual budget of $650 million. In addition to its main Richland complex, PNNL operates a marine research facility in Sequim, Wash., and has offices in Portland, Ore.; Seattle and Tacoma, Wash.; and Washington, D.C.

PNNL was created in 1965 when the government's research laboratory at DOE's Hanford Site was separated from Hanford operations. The lab's original mission was focused on nuclear technology and the environmental and health effects of radiation. PNNL gradually evolved into a national laboratory with a diversified, multiprogram mission. Battelle, of Columbus, Ohio, has managed the lab for the federal government since its inception in 1965. For more information, see www.pnl.gov.

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