San Diego Business Journal

Quantum Magnetics, Inc. will develop a backpack-mounted electronic device to locate metal- and plastic-clad mines, using an $11.9 million award from the U.S. Office of Naval Research.

With the work, the San Diego company expects to hire 20 to 25 professionals, or more, increasing its staff to more than 100, said company president and CEO Lowell Burnett.

The work will build on other government-funded explosive-detection work the company has done. All told, Quantum has received $38 million to develop its land mine detection systems.

Quantum Magnetics' devices sniff out explosives using quadrupole resonance technology, which is similar to nuclear magnetic resonance used in hospitals.

Such technology counts on the nuclei within the explosives' atoms , specifically the way those nuclei are normally pointed in haphazard directions , to reveal the presence of explosives.

The Quantum Magnetics device sends radio pulses into the ground, causing nuclei within the explosives' molecules to line up in the electromagnetic field. When the radio frequency pulses stop, the nuclei go back to their normal positions. As they relax they ring , "almost like a bell," Burnett said , and emit a unique frequency.

Sensitive electronics in the mine detector pick up the signal and determine if the ground is ringing like explosives.

The company proposes a finished product consisting of a 30-pound backpack, attached to a handheld tool that a Marine would use to sweep over the ground.

Quantum Magnetics licensed patents on quadrupole resonance from the Naval Research Laboratory during the 1990s.

The company plans to hire people in highly technical fields: nuclear magnetic resonance, nuclear quadrupole resonance, low-radio frequency antenna and receiver design, and real time software design.

The Army awarded Quantum Magnetics $13.4 million in April to develop a vehicle-mounted land mine detector.

Quantum Magnetics is a wholly owned subsidiary of InVision Technologies, Inc., based in the Bay Area city of Newark.