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Duke University Signs $5.83 million Contract to Develop X-ray Scanner

The Department of Homeland Security has signed a $5.83 million contract with Duke University to develop and design a new type of X-ray scanner for airport screening.

According to the university, the new scanner to be developed by Duke’s electrical engineers will help in detecting the 3-D shape of an object and it’s molecular composition.

During the three-year contract, Duke will collaborate with researchers at the University of Arizona and a few private industry firms to develop the new technology.

“A hospital will spend a million dollars on a thorough scanning device that can process four relatively predictable people in an hour,” said Joel Greenberg, assistant research professor of electrical and computer engineering who is leading the research.

“An airport wants a device that can process thousands of bags — which could literally contain just about anything — each hour for less than $100,000. That’s why airport security technology is so challenging.”

Duke’s and Arizona’s researchers will work on a hybrid X-ray system that combines multi-view transmission with X-ray diffraction tomography, which involves gathering information from X-rays that have bounced off of an object to determine what materials it is made out of.

“We’ve spent the past five years developing a really high-performance X-ray simulation tool that allows us to probe many thousands of synthetic pieces of baggage to explore the performance of arbitrary systems,” said Michael Gehm, another Duke professor.

“We’ll be turning that simulation capability loose on the problem of finding the hardware configuration that provides the best hybrid transmission/diffraction approach,” Gehm added.

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