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Software product may improve security screening, explosives detection

Software product may improve security screening, explosives detection

Software product may improve security screening, explosives detection

A software product developed by a WKU mathematics professor and a Bowling Green technology company “has the potential to be a very important breakthrough in security screening and explosives detection,” according to Vice President for Research Gordon Baylis.

Peaklet Analysis uses a patent-pending mathematics algorithm developed by math professor Bruce Kessler, associate dean of WKU’s Ogden College of Science and Engineering. Programmers and software developers at have worked to convert the algorithm into programming languages that make the software accessible via any computer environment. (Learn more about the software online at

“My hope is that our product would come into play to help explosives detection in airports, in detection of drugs and contraband and even help protect our military from explosive devices,” Dr. Kessler said.

Researchers at the Applied Physics Institute have been working on explosives detection for several years and asked Dr. Kessler to assist in developing a way to improve data analysis from neutron interrogation.

“This is exactly what WKU should be doing,” Dr. Baylis said, adding that a mathematician is using his expertise in what is often theoretical work to address a practical real world issue.

Peaklet Analysis software provides fast, accurate and automated analysis of data collected by low-level radiation generated when an item (luggage, shipping container, explosives) is scanned. Different elements give off radiation at different energy levels, and so a graph of the spectrum of rays that are emitted from the test item will have peaks in locations that indicate the presence of specific elements.

“We all dream of creating the next big thing,” Dr. Baylis said, “but I’m more concerned with getting ideas out there and solving problems. It would be nice to hit a home run with a product or an idea but I want our people out in the ballpark playing the game. Putting smart ideas to work is what WKU can do for the community and is what universities need to be doing for this country.”

Hitcents CFO Ed Mills said his company is pleased to assist in developing and marketing a product with the potential to protect and save lives.

“We want to be a big part of the future of this thing. We believe in this product and the opportunity it brings,” Mills said.

Peaklet Analysis will be marketed to security scanner companies for locating explosives, drugs, contraband in luggage or cargo pallets, petroleum and coal companies for detecting impurities in their product, and manufacturers of analysis equipment used by scientists for elemental detection.

Next month in California’s Silicon Valley, representatives for the WKU Research Foundation and Hitcents will meet with one of the world’s leading security screening equipment manufacturers.

Peaklet Analysis may provide the technology that would allow the Department of Homeland Security to screen shipping containers in a more efficient manner, Dr. Baylis said.

And the software could improve the safety of U.S. military troops around the globe by detecting explosive devices. “If we can get this developed into one of those machines they test in Afghanistan to help the troops, it would be huge,” Mills said. “To save one life would make a difference.”

The project is being supported by WKU’s Office of Research and the WKU Research Foundation and is another example of the partnerships under way at WKU’s Center for Research and Development.

“Any time we team with WKU on research, it’s a win-win situation,” said Mills, whose company has assisted WKU researchers in developing four other products in recent years.

The Peaklet Analysis project has been supported by a Kentucky Science and Engineering Foundation Research & Development Excellence grant and its commercialization effort has been supported by a Kentucky Commercialization Fund grant. The project also won an award in the 2011 Buck$ for Bright Ideas competition sponsored by the Central Region Innovation and Commercialization Center.

Having technology-based businesses like Hitcents sharing space at the Center for Research and Development with WKU research labs like the Applied Physics Ins

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 Last Modified 3/6/17