A NORTHROP Grumman-led team is developing a contraband detection system (CDS) under a $4.6 million US Air Force contract funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA).

The team includes New York-based Scientific Innovations and Vancouver-based Triumf, a consortium of laboratories with expertise in position-emission tomography, a nuclear-imaging technique similar to the one that the CDS will incorporate.

Over the next 18 months, the team will develop a prototype CDS at Northrop Grumman's Advanced Technology and Development Center in Bethpage, New York. The initial CDS is based on the results of a requirements study conducted with organisations including the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The CDS will focus gamma rays, produced using a nuclear phenomenon called gamma resonance, on luggage in containers. Particular chemicals contained in contraband such as explosives, heroin or cocaine will cause distinct gamma-ray absorption patterns, which will trigger an alarm.

Source: Flight International