Detecting Bombs, Saving Lives
Reported May 2010
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- As witnessed in the Oscar-winning film, The Hurt Locker, they can be hidden anywhere and made out of just about anything. Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs are hard to find, but a student competition found a new way to detect danger before it's too late.
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While serving in Iraq, army specialist Marcus Griffin was first on the field. His job? Find bombs. One day, the danger found him first.
"I remember saying, 'That's it. I'm dead,'" Griffin told Ivanhoe.
Griffin spent two months recovering from serious injuries including a collapsed lung, third degree burns, and traumatic brain injury.
"You can't just walk down the street anymore," Griffin said.
A team of science and engineering students is taking on the task of finding ways to help identify bombs and IEDs to make the front line and home front safer for everyone.
"We found that most IEDs are typically made with ferrous, that means iron, compounds inside of it, so we could use magnetic waves to detect the magnetic field given off by the improvised explosive device," Kevin Huang, a computer scientist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., said.
The students created portable palm-sized metal detectors, called magnetometers that can be hidden in an area. Detectors pick up the magnetic field given off by an IED and wirelessly transmit an alert to a command center.
"The advantage of this is it's portable," Huang explained.
The new technology could also be used like a metal detector, which would help keep us safer at home and in the line of fire.
The team of University of Michigan students recently won an air force-sponsored competition for the bomb-detection system. All of the hardware and software for the system was developed in UM's laboratory.
The American Physical Society and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
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