Competence Areas at RISE ICT

Multi-frequency multi-mode Terahertz screening for border checks


European Commission Seventh Framework Programme Theme Security FP7-SEC-2012.3.4-5
Small or medium-scale focused research project (Collaborative project)
Grant Agreement No.: 312496
Start Date: 1st May 2013
Duration: 42 months
Project Consortium: 12 partners from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK
Project Coordinator: Dr. Naomi Alexander, Alfa Imaging S.A., Madrid, Spain


Security checks at borders are required to be increasingly thorough and fast. There are currently two types of technologies available for this application: those that automatically detect objects concealed on a person, and those that rely on human operator analysis and interpretation in order to classify or identify body-borne threats.

The objective of the TeraSCREEN project is to combine these two capabilities, thus providing automatic detection and classification of body-borne threats for security screening. This will significantly improve both efficiency and security at border checks.

TeraSCREEN aims to develop passive and active operation at several Terahertz frequencies. The resulting multi-frequency, multi-mode images will be processed automatically in real-time to reveal the location of potentially harmful objects concealed on a person. Privacy Enhancing Technologies will be used and no anatomical details will be shown or saved. Terahertz radiation is non-ionizing, and reliable studies have shown that active operation in this frequency band is harmless to humans. The automatic recognition of threats, in addition to removing privacy issues, reduces the level of attention required from the operator, which implies a reduction in the personnel necessary for continuous operation.

The TeraSCREEN concept is to combine existing mm-wave and Terahertz technologies with the project developments in the same field, to enhance current safe, security screening capabilities by providing automatic object classification in addition to detection. The background technology includes a passive (no emissions) stand-off real-time millimeter-wave imager for security screening (see also the IMAGINE project). This imager operates at 94GHz. The use of higher operating frequencies, in the Terahertz range (above 300GHz, also known as submillimeter-wave), can provide higher image resolution, thus permitting the detection of smaller objects. The combination of several operating frequencies can show up differences between materials in the scene, as the emissive, transmissive, reflective and scattering properties of materials change with frequency. Thus the use of several passive frequencies can increase the detection capability of concealed objects, in addition to providing a first step towards object classification. Outside this project a 220GHz receiver array is being built; TeraSCREEN proposes to develop a 360GHz receiver array to be integrated together with this new 220GHz receiver array and the existing 94GHz imager. This will produce an innovative passive multi-frequency subsystem.

The more specific scientific and technological objectives of the TeraSCREEN project are:
i) To identify the system-level architecture and requirements including the test and evaluation procedures;
ii) To identify the passive and active subsystem-level requirements based on the system-level ones, including the test and evaluation procedures;
iii) To develop innovative (advancing state of the art) components necessary for the subsystems, although using commercial-off-the-shelf components when available and sharing the components that are common to both subsystems. Includes tests and characterisation;
iv) To integrate the components into modules for the subsystems;
v) To integrate the modules into the passive and active subsystems.
- Passive subsystem: 360GHz, 220GHz and 94GHz real-time stand-off imaging;
- Active subsystem: 360GHz real-time stand-off imaging.
vi) To integrate the passive and active subsystems into the TeraSCREEN Prototype System;
vii) To develop the sensor data fusion and image processing, including the Automatic Object Detection and Classification, and the Privacy Enhancing algorithms complying with EC Regulation No 1147/20119;
viii) To develop the TeraSCREEN Prototype System user interface;
ix) To test and characterise the integrated TeraSCREEN Prototype System;
x) To demonstrate the TeraSCREEN Prototype System in a Pilot Test at a live control point.

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