Bomb-detecting lasers could be next for carry-on luggage

The laser scanner can detect trace amounts of explosives on luggage and clothing.

(Credit: Michigan State University )

Your carry-on luggage and electronics are already intimately familiar with airport X-ray machines. But just when you thought wait times couldn’t get any longer, they may one day be subjected to another check: bomb-detecting lasers.

Researchers at Michigan State University have developed a low-energy laser that can pick up minute amounts of chemical explosives on luggage and clothing.

Doubtless we would all love to see raygun-wielding TSA staff, but the bomb-detecting light would probably be used in a conveyor-belt system.

Described in the current issue of Applied Physics Letters, the laser uses a single beam fired in two pulses. The first resonates with chemical frequencies found in explosives, and the second serves as a reference, and any discrepancy could indicate a bomb, according to Michigan State.

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