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University of Hawai‘i Applied Research Laboratory to work on developing technique for detecting improvised explosive devices

University of Hawaiʻi
Carolyn Tanaka, (808) 956-8109
External Affairs & University Relations
Jim Gaines, (808) 956-7490
Vice President for Research
Posted: Nov 7, 2008

HONOLULU — Working with university partners and private companies, scientists at the University of Hawaiʻi hope to develop a new technique to detect improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The project is the university‘s second task order received through its Applied Research Laboratory (ARL).

IEDs, such as pipe bombs, booby traps, and car bombs, have caused significant casualties and deaths in both civilian and military populations. IEDs are not detectable by means of conventional metal detectors or any single optical technique, which makes them a constant threat to both civilian and military personnel.

The ARL at UH proposes to develop a technique that uses multiple optical methods to rapidly detect the chemical signature of IEDs at a safe distance, while minimizing false alarms, so that they can be properly contained and disposed. Non-explosive material, with similar chemical composition to actual explosives, will be used for the tests. UH will not use or store any explosive material.

UH will work with two university partners—Arkansas State University and Florida A&M University—and three private companies to develop the technique. If successful, the new detection technique would provide greater safety to civilians and military personnel, and could also be used to safeguard airports and harbors.

The Applied Research Laboratory at the University of Hawaiʻi is a research center of excellence for basic Navy and national defense science, technology and engineering with a focus in naval missions and related areas. As a designated Navy-sponsored research laboratory administered by the University of Hawaiʻi System, ARL at UH may conduct research for the Navy, the Department of Defense and other government agencies.