The explosives detection thrust area focuses on understanding the fundamental problems of trace detection of explosives, including direct detection of the explosive, detection of the explosive device, and improvement of explosive sample collection. The goal is to develop sensing systems that are sensitive (capable of detecting ultra-low amounts of explosives), selective (reducing the number of false positives and false negatives), and adaptable (able to be reconfigured as new types of explosives become threats). Approaches to these problems include:

  • Investigation of the fundamental physical processes underlying the traditional trace detection techniques of ion mobility spectrometry and differential mobility spectrometry, including experimental and modeling activities.
  • Development of new gas sensors and sensor arrays using a variety of modalities such as chemiresistors, nanocantilevers, fluorescence quenching, and heat transfer techniques.
  • Synthesis and evaluation of new trace collection systems which can enhance the explosive signature by improved particle collection, vapor plume stimulation, and analyte specific sorbent substrates.
  • Remote detection of explosives by laser photodissociation fluorescence methodology and determination of the physics and chemistry of the ultraviolet ablation process, the signature of explosives in various environments, and the sensitivity.


Explosives Detection Sensors Research Team

Team Leads: William Euler and Carey Rappaport

Project Overview (flash) or PDF

Detection via Optical Chemosensors Using Nanocomposites from Porous Silicon Photonic Crystals and Sensory Polymers

Gas Sensors for the Detection of Explosive Precursors Using Metal Oxide Catalysts

Polymer-aided Detection

Decomposition rate constants, heats of associations, & ion lifetimes of explosives in air at ambient pressure

Modeling of surface-particle interaction

Explosive Detection using Hyperspectral Imaging

Millimeter-Wave Standoff Detection of Concealed Explosives

THz genertation & detection with gases for standoff detection

Intelligent Mass Spectrometer for Identifying Explosives & Chemical Weapons

Detection of Electronically Initiated Explosive Devices

Remote Raman spectroscopy Detection of High Explosives