ALERT Doctoral Student Wins Lemelson-MIT Rensselear Student Prize
Benjamin Clough, an ALERT student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has demonstrated a promising technique that uses sound waves to boost the distance from which researchers can use terahertz technology to remotely detect hidden explosives, chemicals, and other dangerous materials. Terahertz radiation signatures effectively reveal the chemical composition of objects, making them ideal for detecting dangerous explosives and chemicals. Finding a way to extend their reach overcomes a major barrier to using them for remote detection.
In recognition of this work, he received the 2011 Lemelson-MIT Rensselaer Student Prize, one of four Lemelson-MIT Student Prize winners nationwide. Dr. Clough will graduate in 2012 and has already accepted a position with JIEDDO. Clough’s patent-pending solution to this problem is a new method for using sound waves to remotely “listen” to terahertz signals from a distance. So far, Clough has successfully demonstrated the ability to use acoustics to identify the terahertz fingerprints from several meters away. He has separately demonstrated plasma acoustic detection from 11 meters, limited only by available lab space. Along with the increased distance from the potentially hazardous material, an additional advantage is that his system does not require a direct line of sight to collect signals, as the microphone can still capture the audio information. Potential applications of Clough’s invention, which circumvents the fundamental limitations of remote terahertz spectroscopy, include environmental monitoring of atmospheric conditions, monitoring smokestack emissions, inspecting suspicious packages, or even detecting land mines – all from a safe distance.
Innovation Fast Track
EXCLUSIVE TO CENTER MEMBERS: Log in to explore your Innovation Fast Track, an online portal that gives you one-stop access to center researchers, funding opportunities, exclusive events and more.Learn More
Students, get connected with Industry Partners, find out about research and volunteer opportunities within ALERT, or get advice on how to best showcase your work at Student Central.Learn More
ALERT is led by Northeastern University (NEU) and includes three key academic strategic partners: Boston University, Purdue University, and University of Rhode Island (URI).Learn More