New Detection Technology for Airport Closed Luggage Inspection [Idea 3/3 selected by the Microtech Booster (4th loop)]

By using a new perovskite detector the project team could successfully demonstrate a new detection technology to detect illicit materials in closed luggage.

Context and problematic

Baggage inspection at the airport can be dangerous and time-consuming. The state of the art – currently under assessment – is to use fully automated alarm resolution based on barrier analysis technology to detect explosives and other illicit compounds, such as drugs. The X-ray equipment used comprises a single pixel germanium (Ge) detector, which is particularly expensive and whose detection surface remains small. As this equipment comprises a pencil beam geometry, a whole piece of baggage cannot be scanned in a suitable time at present. This high energy resolving detector is used to detect elastic and inelastic scattering as signals that are formed by peak groups between 50 and 60 keV in an energy spectrum. Our idea was to implement in this X-ray system a new perovskite-based detector with direct conversion mode to improve the detection surface and make the system much cheaper.

Results and follow-up

This feasibility study brought unexpected synergies, first leveraging the potential of X-ray equipment for luggage inspection at airport, and so providing a clear path for reduction of inspection times and, secondly, broadening the scope of applications for perovskite-based detectors by using the total number of counts or count rate corresponding to the full X-ray spectrum in scattering mode. Thanks to the use of new software features, the feasibility of this detection method is validated for the first time, allowing for efficient luggage inspection. Current flat panel detectors used for imaging in this application could be replaced. The objectives of the partners is now to launch a new project that will make use of a new perovskite-based line detector with 256 pixels – currently under development – to test real imaging capabilities in scanning mode. This further development should help to confirm the wide applications opportunities of the technology developed within the framework of this Microtech Booster project.