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The fight against IEDs continues to get even more high tech

Researchers from Michigan State University are developing a laser-based method to combat improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used by insurgents fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The laser used by MSU researchers isn't necessarily stronger or more powerful, but is able to scan the immediate area 
analyzing the chemical composition of surrounding objects. 

Originally designed for microscopes, the new technology uses both ultra-short pulses designed to disturb molecules, and the longer pulses are able to identify different frequencies. 

Accurately picking out chemical compounds used in IEDs in the field is complicated due to the varying compounds already present. To complicate matters further, IEDs are often placed in populated locations, so any type of IED locator must spot an IED without destroying it. 

"Having molecular structure sensitivity is 
critical for identifying explosives and avoiding unnecessary evacuation of buildings and closing roads due to false alarms," noted researcher Dr. Marcos Dantus. "The laser and the method we've developed were originally intended for microscopes, but we were able to adapt and broaden its use to demonstrate its effectiveness for standoff detection of explosives." 

British research teams also are developing new chemical-based IED detection systems they hope can be field tested as soon as possible. The use of roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan still cause a high number of coalition casualties, despite vehicles with better armor. 

Trying to combat the deadly impact of IEDs has been a difficult challenge, with a number of different options tested by the US military. Last month, a story surfaced about US Army soldier successfully 
using a modified RC truck to help locate IEDs out in the field.





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