Award-winning Letter Bomb Detector

FREIBURG and KASSEL, Germany -- Thorsten Sprenger from Hübner GmbH and René Beigang from the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques receive the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize 2014

Spotting letters and parcels containing explosives has just gotten easier thanks to the T-COGNITION system from Hübner GmbH, a global company headquartered in Kassel, Germany. The system uses terahertz technology to detect illegal substances without having to open the mail item. At today's Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Annual Meeting, Thorsten Sprenger and René Beigang were presented with this year's Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize for their terahertz system for detecting dangerous substances such as explosives and narcotics.

Thorsten Sprenger heads Hübner's Public Security and Photonics unit. The German company has been manufacturing components and systems for the transportation industry since 1946, adding security technologies to its portfolio in 2005. The collaboration with René Beigang from the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques in Kaiserslautern, Germany, was launched in 2006 with a feasibility study on the non-contact identification of hazardous materials using terahertz technology. Hübner has since developed a range of products for various applications.


T-COGNITION is easy to operate. After being placed in the machine's tray, the postal item is penetrated with terahertz waves of various frequencies, which are absorbed depending on the contents of the item. Every substance has its own unique absorption spectrum. This "fingerprint" is captured by the device and compared with referential spectrums in a database. An alarm sounds when a listed dangerous substance is identified. An important fact: terahertz waves are not harmful to humans.

The T-COGNITION system can enhance the work and safety in the police force, customs controls and prisons. It can also be used to protect prominent individuals. Hübner's new product is designed to supplement, not replace, conventional x-ray scans. Postal items identified as potentially dangerous during a preliminary inspection by x-ray or by the Hübner Terahertz Imager T-SENSE can be examined by T-CONGNITION for a final check.

The Oscar of the photonics industry

The Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize is not the first for Hübner's innovation. Its T-COGNITION and the revolutionary C-WAVE - a technology for tunable laser light frequencies, were recognized at the Photonics West 2014 trade fair with the Prism Award, the Oscar of the photonics sector.

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