Terahertz light to help end terror

Smiths Detection and TeraView are to co-develop a next-generation hand-held security wand that utilises terahertz light waves to detect and identify weapons concealed beneath clothing.

Smiths Detection and TeraView have signed an agreement to co-develop a next-generation hand-held security wand. The wand will utilise terahertz light waves to detect and identify weapons concealed beneath clothing, inside shoes, or in other objects.

“This technology detects multiple threats and will represent a significant leap forward over existing hand-held metal detectors,” said Bill Mawer, President of Smiths Detection North America. “TeraView is the clear leader in developing this exciting technology and together we will develop a commercial product that will strengthen any security checkpoint.”

Terahertz light, which lies between microwave and infrared in the electromagnetic spectrum, has a number of properties that set it apart from other technologies, particularly those applied in passenger screening.

It passes through clothing, paper and plastics to detect metal, ceramic or plastic weapons. It also allows substances such as explosives to be identified from their characteristic spectral ‘fingerprints’.

According to Smiths Detection, Terahertz technology has the potential to overcome the limitations of new security screening techniques that use ionising radiation as Terahertz light is non-ionising and can be used safely for people screening applications.

The new wand will reportedly provide improved security over hand-held metal detectors by reducing the number of false alarms that lead to invasive manual searches. It will also enable in-situ screening of luggage for explosives.