Professor Arbabian and research professo Khuri-Yakub's research was spurred by a challenge posed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), best known for sponsoring the studies that led to the Internet. DARPA sought to develop a system to detect plastic explosives buried underground – improvised explosive devices (IEDs) – that are currently invisible to metal detectors. The task included one important caveat: The detection device could not touch the surface in question, so as not to trigger an explosion.
Professor Arbabian and research professor Khuri-Yakub detail their latest step toward developing such a device through experiments, which are detailed in Applied Physics Letters and presented at the International Ultrasonics Symposium in Taipei, Taiwan.
The work grows out of research designed to detect buried plastic explosives, but the researchers said the technology could also provide a new way to detect early stage cancers.
"We've been working on this for a little over two years," Khuri-Yakub said. "We're still at an early stage but we're confident that in five to ten to fifteen years, this will become practical and widely available."
The research team includes graduate students Hao Nan, Kevin Boyle, Nikhil Apte, Miaad Aliroteh, Anshuman Bhuyan and senior research associate Amin Nikoozadeh.
Excerpts from Stanford Report.