Meeting Information

IED Countermeasures – Deactivation without Detonation

March 20, 2019
American Center for Physics
College Park, MD

Date: March 20, 2019 

Speaker: Jim Ziegler, U.S. Naval Academy (retired)

Topic: IED Countermeasures – Deactivation without Detonation

Time and Location: 1:00 p.m., with Q&A to follow in the 5th floor large conference room at the American Center for Physics (, 1 Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD — off River Rd., between Kenilworth Ave. and Paint Branch Parkway.

Abstract: After the Iraq war started in 2003, within 15 months over 60% of the US casualties were being caused by a weapon that had never been significant in previous conflicts: the Improvised Explosive Device (IED). These are explosive mines that are mostly concealed at night near roads, and then detonated the next day when combatant vehicles are driven by. The only available countermeasure, using intense RF beams to deactivate the devices, was ineffective. This talk will discuss the history of IEDs, and then concentrate on the use of IEDs in Iraq. The political decisions that may have led to the high fatality rate in Iraq will be outlined. Of note, contrasting political decisions in Afghanistan led to IED’s causing fewer than 20% of the casualties there, although the number of IED’s exceeded that in Iraq. Because of the terrible consequences in Iraq, with no effective available remedy, IED Countermeasures was proposed as ideal for student engineering research projects. Over five years, student work to develop a technology for “Remote IED Deactivation without Detonation” will be outlined (they were quite successful!). They used high power beams of RF, electrons, protons and neutrons to attempt deactivation at a 100’ distance. The final IED Neutralizer was built into a portable trailer, and successfully field tested.

Biography: James Ziegler joined IBM-Research in 1967. His initial work involved ion channeling studies of impurities in crystals, ion implantation to form electronic devices and radiation damage in materials. He was involved in the introduction of integrated circuit (IC) fabrication at IBM, especially the use of ion implantation to make doped semiconductor junctions. His 1979 paper suggesting that cosmic rays were a substantial contributor to electronic reliability has become the benchmark in the analysis of system reliability of terrestrial electronics. From 1975 - 2000, he was the manager of Radiation Science at IBM, which developed ion implantation technology for advanced integrated circuit manufacturing. From 1996-2000 he conducted research in new concepts of high-frequency communication technologies including the incorporation of MEMS concepts into integrated circuit RF designs. He has been elected a Fellow of the International Electrical and Electronic Engineering Society (IEEE) and also a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He is the author or editor of 20 scientific books on the above topics, and holds 16 U. S. Patents, mostly in integrated circuit technology. In 2000, he retired from IBM after 33 years. He recently retired from a position as a Professor at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD.