Bomb detection is currently carried out with the help of dogs, honeybees, X-ray machines and other tools.
“Existing methods require you to get quite close to the suspicious object,” Adams said during a presentation of his findings at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Dynamic Systems and Control Conference.
"The idea behind our project is to develop a system that will work from a distance to provide an additional degree of safety," Adams said.
His system utilizes a sonic beam and an instrument called a laser vibrometer. While the sonic beam is trained on the potentially explosive device, the vibrometer measures the device’s movements in order to determine what is inside.
“We are applying techniques of laser vibrometry that have been developed for non-destructive inspection of materials and structures to the problem of bomb detection and they are working quite well,” Adams said.
Using this technique, Adams demonstrated that it's possible to tell the difference between an empty container, one filled with water and one filled with a clay-like substance from a remote location. A portion of his research is being funded by the Office of Naval Research.