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Optimisation of illicit material detection using X-ray diffraction: Drug identification using Low Angle X-ray Scatter - DILAX III

7 March 2012

Ireneos Drakos

A major threat in security in the latest years has been transporting illicit drugs into the United Kingdom through a variety of routes, and most predominantly via the postal system. Manual searching of all - or even a substantial proportion - of the international parcels handled daily by both Royal Mail and private sorting offices is impossible and inefficient. Therefore, there is a need to use an automated non-destructive method to identify suspicious parcels requiring further examination.

X-ray diffraction’s low false alarm rate and reduced need for manual inspections dramatically improves screening effectiveness and detection performance and can therefore enable customs to detect drugs and other prohibited goods, preventing their entrance into the country. X-ray diffraction provides a means to determine both the structure and composition of a material, based on the measurement of its scatter signatures. These scatter signatures exhibit a pattern of interference peaks in scattered intensity, as a function of momentum transfer.

The aim of this study is to build and test a novel in-field system for illicit material identification, and implement its use. The research explores the theory behind x-ray diffraction techniques with a focus on the importance of sensitivity and specificity parameters. The application of energy dispersive x-ray diffraction (EDXRD) using different collimator configuration systems is an integral part of the study