ASU Studying Dangerous Explosive Devices

JONESBORO, AR -- Specialist Erich Smallwood of the 875th was killed Saturday in Iraq by an I.E.D. Wednesday, a U.S. Senate Committee has approved over 5 million dollars in funding for Arkansas State and 2 other universities to research these explosive devices and how troops can detect them.

Currently in the war in Iraq, I.E.D's, or improvised explosive devices are the biggest problem for our troops on the ground. Now, ASU is researching a way to detect those. It's groundbreaking research that hopefully will prevent more deadly I.E.D. explosions.

"It's something that I think we all feel very strongly about and we're hoping that we'll be able to make a contribution that will ultimately be able to protect lives in the future," says Dr. Scott Reeve, an associate professor of Chemistry and Physics at ASU.

Their job is research. Through federal funding, professors and graduate students at ASU are studying laser beams.

"We can project a laser out in front of the troops and it can read barcode information and when it sees a barcode that tells you that there's an explosive device nearby. It will immediately alert the troops to that presence," says Reeve.

The equipment sends many laser beams out and reads several different codes, codes that could tell troops just how close they are to an I.E.D.

Kevin Lyon is working on his PhD at ASU. Part of his duties include this research that could possibly help out our troops from falling victim to terrorist's bombs.

"The long term goal is to have it to where when it's in the field they know what they're looking for, they just go out and push a button and it's done, but it's not like that for us," says Lyon.

Right now, it's a lot more complicated.

"We're the one's taking data. This particular piece of equipment is one of a kind and unfortunately what that means is its not dummy proof," says Lyon.

It takes many long research hours that they say they're willing to work if it could possibly save the lives of our troops fighting for our country.

"Every chemical will have its own trace and that's what we're looking for, so we'll send these three photons out and we'll get some signal back that says yes, I'm there and if we get that, then there's a problem and so you send someone out or preferable something out to go find it before you get there and it goes boom        ," says Lyon.

Research at ASU in conjunction with the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Florida A & M University has already been funded, so what could the additional 5 million from Congress do for this research if appropriated?

"Be able to look for more molecules, look for different things, different types of explosives. There's always something new they're coming up with so we've got to come up with something new that will find it," adds Lyon.

If the money is fully approved, this will be the fourth fiscal year in which federal money has been authorized to support this research at ASU.