Jerusalem:Air travel could get easier and less invasive after scientists have developed a new technology that checks for explosives without full-body scanners at airports.

Researchers from Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel have developed a more precise and direct method for using ‘terahertz’ (THz) technology to detect explosives from greater distances.

The advance could ultimately lead to detectors that survey a wider area of an airport without the need for full-body scanners, researchers said.

R Kosloff and colleagues said that using THz spectroscopy by itself is challenging for sensing far-away explosives. This technology uses beams of electromagnetic radiation that lie between microwaves, like those used in kitchen ovens, and the infrared rays used in TV remote controls.

In addition to screening people for explosives, it is used at drug companies for quality-control purposes and, most recently, to study the layers of paint of ancient works of art.

With recent advances, the technique is becoming a strong candidate for detecting substances from a distance. Other researchers have developed remote-sensing THz instruments, but they combine it with a second method to identify substances.

Kosloff’s group aimed to use THz directly to eventually develop even better remote sensors.

They developed a computational tool and used it to successfully identify two explosives, RDX and TATP, with THz data directly.

RDX is a component of plastic explosives, and TATP is a sensitive and easily-produced high explosive.

“The ability to perform experimentally and simulate multidimensional spectroscopy should significantly enhance the screening ability of THz spectroscopy,” said researchers.

The paper was published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.

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