Detection of Electronically Initiated Explosive Devices
F2-E (Phase 1)

Download the 2013 Project Report

Explosive devices are often triggered by electronic components like wireless receivers, timers, and microprocessors. When active, these electronics emit electromagnetic energy and are susceptible to damage from external electromagnetic fields. Our goal is to develop methods to remotely detect and neutralize electronics used in explosive devices by exploiting their electromagnetic characteristics. Our work with DHS has focused on detecting and locating radio receivers (used to remotely initiate a device) and on detecting digital electronics (like a microprocessor or digital timer). Algorithms have been developed to remotely detect and locate radio receivers using a low-power stimulation that modifies their emissions. This approach is able to detect these receivers from far greater distances or in far greater noise than traditional passive methods. Location is determined using a variant of radar ranging techniques. The approach has been implemented in a hand-held software-defined radio and its capability demonstrated on multiple receivers in a noisy urban environment. The receivers in our tests were located within an RMS error of less than 7 m at a range of up to 50 m or more. In the last year, we have focused on developing algorithms for detecting the electromagnetic emissions from uncharacterized clocked digital devices in noisy electromagnetic environments. These algorithms can be used to detect “unknown” digital devices containing components like digital timers or microcontrollers. Five algorithms were tested and shown to quickly and accurately detect clocked digital emissions even in the presence of substantial RF noise, typical of an urban environment. Over the course of the project, six journal papers have been submitted, one patent disclosure was made, and several presentations were given. Commercialization of the developed technology is being pursued with a small company. Our work on the ALERT projects ends with this year, though will continue through other funding sources.

Detection of electronics has an advantage over many other explosives detection techniques in that it can potentially be done relatively quickly from relatively long range and can be done with relatively inexpensive equipment.
- F2-E Progress Report
Project Leader
  • Daryl Beetner
    Missouri S&T

Faculty and Staff Currently Involved in Project
  • Steve Grant
    Associate Professor
    Missouri S&T

Students Currently Involved in Project
  • Colin Stagner
    Missouri S&T