When it comes to detecting and identifying concealed threats inside baggage and packages, solutions that use some type of X-Ray (transmission, CT, or backscatter) have dominated the security market for decades.  However, it uses ionizing radiation and relies on identifying an item’s shape, atomic number, and density to determine if it is a potential threat.  Finding a technology that does not use ionizing radiation, and can discriminate materials based on other characteristics has been a “holy grail” for security because. in combination with X-Ray, such a technology could improve detection, throughput and reduce false alarms.

That is what makes recent SBIR winner Spectrohm so exciting.

Spectrohm uses long radio waves to both image the inside of packages and identify materials. While still early in development, their technology could deliver a new, high-throughput, non-intrusive cargo and baggage screening system that would not require ionizing radiation.  Spectrohm’s technology could enable rapid inspection in a number of possible configurations–potentially offering both a discrimination complement to existing X-Ray based systems and a fast, agile standalone capability for smaller parcels.

Spectrohm’s key differentiator is the use of long (VHF) radio wavelengths. These can penetrate dense or thick materials and cover portions of the radio spectrum where discriminating spectra of many materials reside. Until now, long radio wavelengths had been of limited use because of a tradeoff between a radio wavelength’s imaging resolution and its depth of penetration.

Spectrohm’s innovation—called transmission line tomography (TLT) can achieve both the fine imaging resolution of short, mm-wavelengths and the deep penetration of long multi-meter radio wavelengths.

And as a bonus, many materials exhibit unique radiofrequency spectral transitions within the meters-length, VHF band where Spectrohm can operate.

Spectrohm has developed a benchtop prototype and was recently awarded a DHS SBIR Phase 1 to explore a TLT-based high-throughput non-ionizing screening capability for identifying contraband.

Spectrohm’s technology enables systems that are safe, fast, smart, non-contact, and agile. They are working with AGX Marketing to find additional partners to explore new applications of this exciting method of radio-based imaging and discrimination.

Reprinted with permission of The Homeland Security Technology Newsletter from AGX Marketing LLC.
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