Imaging System Identifies Concealed Weapons Using RF Chips

The UC San Diego RFIC chip could lead to less expensive imagers for detecting concealed weapons.

Electrical engineers from the University of California, San Diego are using W-Band silicon-germanium (SiGe) radio frequency integrated circuits (RFICs) for passive millimeter-wave imaging. The resulting imaging systems would identify concealed weapons, help helicopters land during dust storms, and enable high-frequency data communications.

The new millimeter-wave amplifier system works at the same frequency and follows the same principles as security imaging systems now in use in airports. The new circuit is unique in that it uses standard silicon semiconductor technology, while today’s security imaging systems often rely on expensive gallium arsenide or indium phosphide amplifiers.

The circuit includes an antenna that can be used to capture radiation in the millimeter-wave frequency emitted from the human body and from objects under a person’s clothing. This radiation passes through clothing largely or completely unaffected. Imagers operating at millimeter waves are particularly useful because they can resolve images down to a millimeter scale, fine enough detail to identify small objects and separate items on a person’s body. Using signal processing, these kinds of scanners can put together a temperature map of a person’s body that includes any objects underneath the clothing.

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Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 1st July 2009


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