Airport security has become a normal part of travelling, and we are all used to long queues while we wait to pass through an X-ray scanner. But, wouldn’t it be great if that process could be quicker and more efficient?
The USA’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) certainly thinks so. That’s why it has awarded $1.6 million in funding to Halo X-ray Technologies Ltd (HXT). HXT have developed a next-generation X-ray security scanner, using technology produced at 2 of our partner universities: Cranfield University and Nottingham Trent University (NTU).
About X-ray scanner technology
Currently, the X-ray scanner technology used at airports can’t definitively identify what an object is made of. This means that there are lots of false alarms that need to be investigated by staff, and this slows down security checks.
That’s why Cranfield University and Nottingham Trent University worked in partnership to develop a scanner that can identify whether a substance is, for example, an explosive or an illegal drug —all in just a few milliseconds!
Dr Karl Harris, Science and Technology Program Manager, says:
“HXT’s X-ray diffraction system makes use of a novel focal construct technology that increases flux intensity for greater signal efficiency. The technology was jointly pioneered at Nottingham Trent University and Cranfield University and developed under previous DHS science and technology funded work…
… By combining HXT’s technology with a primary X-ray transmission scanner, we hope to automatically adjudicate bag alarms, enhancing passenger throughput and improving the passenger experience.”
Not only will the technology improve the passenger experience, it will better protect the lives of millions of air travellers, since terrorist threats are continually evolving and challenging existing X-ray scanner technology.
William N. Bryan, DHS Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology, says:
“The potential use of improvised explosive threats by terrorists poses many security challenges in screening aviation passengers… Science and technology is at the forefront of collaborative, multi-faceted research and development solutions to protect air travellers worldwide.”
It’s clear that the work being carried out at Cranfield and NTU is incredibly important, globally recognised, and can help to make the world a better place.
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