A cure for contraband

A cure for contraband

In the continuing quest to secure our borders against attacks, the U.S. government is tapping into the most creative minds in the country to develop next-generation logistics security systems — whether or not they happen to be particularly well versed in logistics technology.

Legend has it that the graphical user interface for the original Apple personal computer, as well as laser printing and Ethernet were created at Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) (www.parc.com), a research think tank spun off from Xerox Corp. Illustrating that politics do indeed make strange bedfellows, PARC is teaming up with Varian Medical Systems Inc. (www.varian.com), a manufacturer of X-ray tubes and cancer therapy systems, to create ultra-sensitive X-ray inspection technology for cargo screening at airports and seaports.

The U.S. Department of Commerce (www.commerce.gov) has awarded $5.87 million in grants to PARC and Varian to create large-area detectors that will allow inspectors to detect contraband in cargo containers that can be examined quickly and cost-effectively.

“The goal is to develop cost-effective methods for making flat-panel sensor arrays many times larger than those used for medical imaging,” says Varian's Michael Green, technical manager for the project. Varian plans to commercialize the technology resulting from the project by developing components for manufacturers of baggage and cargo screening systems. LT

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January, 2004

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