MagRay new low-power X-ray machine use Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans liquid in airport

Major breakthrough in MRI technology for screening liquids

10:27 AM, 2nd December 2013
New MRI low-power X-ray machine scans liquid used in airport security
MagRay engineer Larry Schultz puts a bottle of surrogate material that mimic home made explosives into the MagRay bottle scanner.

LOS ALAMOS, US: Scientists at Los Alamos National Lab have advanced a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology that may provide a breakthrough for screening liquids at airport security. They have achieved a new detection technology by adding low-power X-ray data to the mix. The new system is named MagRay.

The goal is to quickly and accurately distinguish between liquids that visually appear identical. For example, what appears to be a bottle of white wine could potentially be nitromethane, a liquid that could be used to make an explosive. Both are clear liquids, One would be perfectly safe on a commercial aircraft, the other would be strictly prohibited.

“One of the challenges for the screening of liquids in an airport is that, while traditional X-ray based baggage scanners provide high throughput with good resolution of some threats, there is limited sensitivity and selectivity for liquid discrimination. While MRI can differentiate liquids, there are a certain class of explosives, those that are complex, homemade, or may have mixes of all kinds of stuff that are more challenging,” said Espy, Physicist and MagRay Project Leader, Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“I am amazed at how good it works. We’ve been able to look at a really broad class of explosives, we’ve been able to look through all kinds of packaging, and we’ve unlocked a new parameter – proton content – that’s not available to either X-ray or MRI alone,” said Espy.

“We’re looking for where a liquid lies in a sort of three-dimensional space of MRI, proton content, and X-ray density. With those measures we find that benign liquids and threat liquids separate real nicely in this space, so we can detect them quickly with a very high level of confidence,” said Schultz, MagRay Engineer, Los Alamos National Laboratory.

© Los Alamos National Laboratory News

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