Non-destructive terahertz imaging of illicit drugs using spectral fingerprints

Opt Express. 2003 Oct 6;11(20):2549-54. doi: 10.1364/oe.11.002549.


The absence of non-destructive inspection techniques for illicit drugs hidden in mail envelopes has resulted in such drugs being smuggled across international borders freely. We have developed a novel basic technology for terahertz imaging, which allows detection and identification of drugs concealed in envelopes, by introducing the component spatial pattern analysis. The spatial distributions of the targets are obtained from terahertz multispectral transillumination images, using absorption spectra measured with a tunable terahertz-wave source. The samples we used were methamphetamine and MDMA, two of the most widely consumed illegal drugs in Japan, and aspirin as a reference.