Skip to Content

Bomb Buster

Neutron-based device could foil terrorists by sensing explosives in baggage.
February 15, 2004

Up to 40 percent of checked luggage falsely sets off airport bomb detectors, wasting time and money, and because the detectors look for suspicious objects rather than explosive chemicals, clever terrorists could still evade them. But HiEnergy Technologies in Irvine, CA, has dusted off a technology abandoned as impractical in the 1980s to create new sensors that can chemically identify explosives, even through steel. HiEnergy’s founder and CEO, Bogdan Maglich, says the device sends a harmless amount of neutrons toward an object. It then analyzes radiation induced by the particles to reveal the chemical makeup of the target. HiEnergy’s revival of the technology pivoted on its ability to control noise from neutrons hitting objects other than the ones being scanned. The Spanish government has asked the company to develop the technology into a car-bomb detector for use in parking garages; tests of the detector are scheduled for early December, and those of a baggage- and cargo-scanning system could follow in January.

Other Prototypes

Keep Reading

Most Popular

This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting

With plans to create realistic synthetic embryos, grown in jars, Renewal Bio is on a journey to the horizon of science and ethics.

VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence

On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.

This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine

Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.