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Research carried out by BEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering (EEE) student Harry Baxter and supported by his tutor Bin Yang, Associate Professor in Terahertz Engineering, is set to be published in the Frontiers Physics journal.

Bin explained that it is unusual for an undergraduate student to publish a research article, as this is usually achieved by those further along in their academic studies.

Harry, 20, from Manchester, was the lead author on the paper, which explores Volatile Liquid Detection by Terahertz Technologies and how it could be used to help scan liquids in airports.

He explained that the paper explores a way to detect, recognise and identify different liquids using Terahertz radiation. This form of radiation is non-destructive and harmless and has many applications in the security sector. The paper goes on to explain the physics behind Terahertz and how Harry and his co-researchers managed to create a method for detecting different liquids.

He said: “In a UK airport it is the law you must have all your liquids placed in a 100ml container and in plastic bags for screening, alongside your on-flight luggage and usually X-rays are used to scan the objects. X-rays, however, are dangerous and so can't be used to screen passengers, but they also cannot distinguish between a solid and a liquid. This is where the idea of Terahertz comes in, as we could potentially use a Terahertz-based imaging system to scan people, and all their luggage.”

Harry said that the main issue was there needed to be a way to tell the difference between a harmful or contraband liquid such as kerosene, petrol, diesel – liquids that are not allowed on a flight - and other normal water-based liquids, such as drinks or make-up.

He added: “Finding a way to detect and identify liquids via Terahertz was very important and by using our method, it is possible for every passenger, and all their luggage to be screened using the same system. This provides multiple benefits, as it is safer, faster, and can be used in tandem with a machine learning algorithm or 'AI' to automatically detect liquids, or other objects like knives or firearms, a human could potentially miss. Using the method that we discuss in the paper, it could provide a massive benefit to the security sector overall.”

Harry thanks his tutor Bin for his achievement and the support he has received.

He added: “It does feel quite strange to be recognised as an author for a published paper as this is all very new to me, but it does feel rewarding. The main reason the paper appears in a publication is due to my supervisor Bin Yang. As we discussed the project and its uses/applications, he knew that it was something worth publishing, and so pushed us both to create a really fine piece of work that would be suitable for the scientific community.”

Bin added: “I am very pleased to see that Harry, as an undergraduate student, has published this research article, which is usually work achieved by postgraduate students such as those at Master’s or PhD level. As part of our teaching programmes we pay a great deal of effort to enabling students to grasp research methodology and article writing skills by giving them strict criteria and feedback to improve their analysis.

“This publication reflects Harry’s continued good performance during his studies in every module of EEE, including his active thinking and serious writing of every report.”

The University is currently exploring new degree apprenticeships with industry in EEE.

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