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This paper presents the first step in characterizing and detecting common household powders as hoax materials by investigating their broadband dielectric characteristics. Pesticide is also studied due to its similarities to anthrax. A modified two-beam polarizing interferometer and custom-made sample holders were utilized to obtain the refractive index (RFI), absorption coefficient, complex real and imaginary permittivity, and loss tangent of flour, dry milk, cornstarch, pesticide, baking soda, and talc as a continuous function of frequency in the range of 400-1200 GHz. Dispersive Fourier transform spectroscopy was employed to provide phase and amplitude information, leading to the accurate and direct acquisition of the complex RFI and complex dielectric permittivity spectra. It is the first time that such measurements were carried out over such an extended frequency range for common powders to reveal marked variation in absorption and RFI values for different powders. The powders exhibit high-absorption characteristics, and the RFI values lie between 2.4 and 3.4 in this spectral range. A unique resonance signature for talc was detected at 1135 GHz with an associated anomalous dispersion. Parameters such as grain size and orientation were analyzed for their effect on the dielectric properties of powders. Relationships between density, permittivity, and RFI are explored to provide the ability to extrapolate results for other densities. The RFI and the real part of the dielectric permittivity were found to be the most reliable for identification and detection purposes.
Instrumentation and Measurement, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:57 , Issue: 2 )
Date of Publication: Feb. 2008