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Scientists develop a new X-ray method that can detect explosives with 100% accuracy

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While most of us consider airport security to be fairly accurate, studies have shown that screeners fail to detect weapons, drugs and explosives in 80 percent of cases.

But a new X-ray method could make it much easier for screeners to detect these illegal and dangerous items.

Researchers at University College London used AI to develop the approach, which they say can detect items with 100 percent accuracy.

Tristram Riley-Smith, co-author of the study, said: “This research has demonstrated the potential to transform the detection of covert threats around the world, as well as diverse contraband such as narcotics and illegal goods in the wild.”

The technique differs from conventional X-rays (center) in that it shows microscopic structures (right)

While most of us consider airport security to be fairly accurate, studies have shown that screeners fail to detect weapons, drugs, and explosives in 80 percent of cases.

While most of us consider airport security to be fairly accurate, studies have shown that screeners fail to detect weapons, drugs, and explosives in 80 percent of cases.

How does it work?

The X-ray technique is based on the fact that microscopic changes or irregularities in objects cause X-rays to bend as they pass through them — something the researchers found in previous research.

By measuring these small curves, X-rays can detect different textures.

The small deviation in an X-ray beam occurs at angles as small as a microradian, which is about 20,000 times smaller than a degree.

The team combined the measurement of these angles, known as microradian scattering, with AI to accurately identify objects and materials through their texture.

When tested for explosives, the detection rate was 100 percent.

The X-ray technique is based on the fact that microscopic changes or irregularities in objects cause X-rays to bend as they pass through them — something the researchers found in previous research.

By measuring these small curves, X-rays can detect different textures.

Professor Sandro Olivo, senior author of the study, explains: ‘This is a radically different way of inspecting materials and objects by analyzing textures, and allows us to detect illegal materials in a new way.

‘The little bends in X-rays have always been there, but they are invisible to conventional X-ray systems, so this allows us to access a huge amount of previously unused information.

“So far we have shown that it works extremely well for detecting explosives, but it can be used in any application that depends on X-rays, such as medical imaging or detecting weaknesses in industrial structures.”

The tiny deviation in an X-ray beam occurs at angles as small as a microradian — about 20,000 times smaller than a degree.

The team combined the measurement of these angles, known as microradian scattering, with AI to accurately identify objects and materials through their texture.

When tested for explosives, the detection rate was 100 percent.

The technique differs from conventional X-rays in that it shows microscopic structures.

Researchers can then distinguish between dangerous and benign material by analyzing the microscopic irregularities.

David Bate, co-author of the study, said: ‘We are working with Professor Olivo’s team to bring this transformative technology into the industrial field to improve quality and safety.

The team combined the measurement of these angles, known as microradian scattering, with AI to accurately identify objects and materials through their texture.  In explosives tests, the detection rate was 100 percent

The team combined the measurement of these angles, known as microradian scattering, with AI to accurately identify objects and materials through their texture. In explosives tests, the detection rate was 100 percent

Researchers can distinguish between hazardous and benign material by analyzing the microscopic irregularities

Researchers can distinguish between hazardous and benign material by analyzing the microscopic irregularities

“By training the AI ​​on ‘perfect’ components, we predict that the technique can be used to identify defects in industrial components such as cracks, rust or holes before they are visible to the naked eye.”

The researchers hope the technique can be used in a variety of sectors, including security and customs.

“What Professor Olivo and the team have achieved with their innovative approach not only has the potential to improve security applications for detecting explosives and weapons, but with their technique applied to other materials, such as illicit drugs, it could have a positive impact on additional end users. communities, such as customs,” said Trevor Francis, chair of the Innovative Research Call for Explosives and Weapons Detection, which supported the work.

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