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Journal of Spectroscopy
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 613435, 13 pages
Review Article

Standoff Methods for the Detection of Threat Agents: A Review of Several Promising Laser-Based Techniques

1Arkansas Center for Laser Applications and Science, Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, AR 72401, USA
2Department of Mechanical Engineering, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL 32114, USA
3Department of Physics, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL 32310, USA
4U.S. Army RDECOM CERDEC, Night Vision & Electronic Sensors Directorate, Fort Belvoir, VA 22060, USA

Received 14 February 2014; Accepted 22 May 2014; Published 7 August 2014

Academic Editor: Eugen Culea

Copyright © 2014 J. Bruce Johnson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Detection of explosives, explosive precursors, or other threat agents presents a number of technological challenges for optical sensing methods. Certainly detecting trace levels of threat agents against a complex background is chief among these challenges; however, the related issues of multiple target distances (from standoff to proximity) and sampling time scales (from passive mines to rapid rate of march convoy protection) for different applications make it unlikely that a single technique will be ideal for all sensing situations. A number of methods for spanning the range of optical sensor technologies exist which, when integrated, could produce a fused sensor system possessing a high level of sensitivity to threat agents and a moderate standoff real-time capability appropriate for portal screening of personnel or vehicles. In this work, we focus on several promising, and potentially synergistic, laser-based methods for sensing threat agents. For each method, we have briefly outlined the technique and report on the current level of capability.