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Development of a low-cost, portable NQR spectrometer for RDX explosives detection

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Yui Otagaki, Yuji Miyato, Jamie Barras, Hideo Sato-Akaba, Panagiotis Kosmas

Original languageEnglish
Accepted/In press2020

King's Authors


Nuclear quadrupole resonance (NQR) technology is a promising approach to detect so-called “minimum metal” landmines, as it can look directly for their explosive content. Conventional commercially available NQR devices, however, are large and expensive, and they require a transmitter power amplifier with a power generator, which is not suitable for outdoor use and mass production. Here we present a small and inexpensive portable device developed for detecting landmines using NQR. The device uses a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) and low-impedance transmission and reception circuits that include a dual supply class-D power amplifier powered by conventional batteries to ensure sufficient magnetic field excitation for mine detection. The pulse width modulation signals that are fed into the power amplifier have been designed to protect the low impedance transmit-receive switch circuit from the high voltage. The system has been tested successfully in the laboratory with 100g of explosive RDX at distance 10cm from the antenna, corresponding to a plausible anti-personal (AP) mine scenario. Detection was achieved with a signal to noise ratio (SNR) 2 in 2/3 of the time that a previous prototype required (120 sec). Moreover, the new device can detect RDX explosives with a measurement time and SNR comparable to mine detectors built with commercial-of-the-shelf (COTS) components, but at lower cost and smaller form factor.

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