Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) have attracted a lot of attention as a result of their use by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, but IEDs are used by guerillas and terrorist groups in many parts of the world, including Columbia. Being sensitive to the problem of IEDs, two Columbian doctoral students from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) set about looking for a way to explode such devices at a distance. In collaboration with two Columbian Universities the EPFL students developed a device that can explode IEDs remotely by using energy from their electromagnetic impulses.
The two main technical difficulties the students, Félix Vega and Nicolas Mora, had to address in developing their system were finding a way of inducting a current that would be strong enough to set off the detonators of the mines at a distance, and of ensuring they were attaining the resonance frequencies of the various types of mines, which are all constructed in different ways.
To scan the highest possible number of frequencies, it’s necessary to create short impulses with a very fast response time. But spanning a large spectrum of resonances results in only a fraction of the impulse created reaching the target. This means that by the time the current reaches the target, it is no longer strong enough to explode the mine.
“We then realized that in spite of the wide diversity of these mines, they are however all in similar frequency ranges”, said Nicolas Mora. “So we developed a system that concentrates on those, and thus loses less energy.”