Producing bombs in the name of science

Rob Satink

The title of this article, might make you think of a scene of mad scientists working in their lab on a Friday afternoon to frantically produce what they believe to be “cool”, ‘let’s try to make a bomb’. In actuality, the bomb production part did actually happen at Stage Gate 11, but not as the theme of some crazy Friday afternoon experiments. It was done in all seriousness during the course of the thesis work of Ruby de Groot, from September 2021 to February 2022.

Producing bombs in the name of science

Stage Gate 11 is developing sensing technologies with applications such as the screening persons and objects for the presence of illicit materials, more particularly: explosives or narcotics. An example of a solution based upon this technology is the Delta R Shoe Scanner, a solution with which the shoes worn by passengers can be screened, without the need to take shoes off.

Explosives in research

While there are studies which clarify the general properties and behaviour of explosives within limited scenarios, there are almost no studies which study the behaviour of explosives in real-life scenarios. With the study conducted by Ruby de Groot, Stage Gate 11 has sought to make headway in the study of actual scenarios.

Rob Satink, CTO with Stage Gate 11, explains: “It is quite essential to understand how complete scenarios operate, since it is what you will be faced with in the real world. By studying this, one can understand which opportunities and risks present themselves, while attempting to detect such threats. In publicly accessible sources, we currently find only limited information. Information on the complete scenarios is lacking.”

I was allowed to do work on explosive substances, and yes, it is as exciting and cool as it sounds Link to page

Ruby de Groot
Ruby de Groot

Ruby's Experiences

Ruby de Groot started her extensive thesis work in September 2021. She tells about her experiences: “I had the opportunity to do my thesis work at Stage Gate 11, and it was quite amazing to do work on this subject. I was allowed to do work on explosive substances, and yes, it is as exciting and cool as it sounds. Besides the interesting and challenging research, it was an experience which allowed me to develop my personal skills to a great degree. My colleagues at Stage Gate 11 helped with that, and I am grateful for the support and the great time I had there, while doing research. As a result of this thesis work, I have graduated from the Hogeschool of Amsterdam, with a degree in Forensic Sciences, and I am currently underway in the start of my professional career.”

Rob adds: “ Working with actual explosives is a bit overstating it, because that is just not allowed for us. While our professional conversations at Stage Gate 11 revolve around the subjects of bombs and explosives regularly, we work with simulant materials to mimic the aspects of bomb production and to conduct the study of associated phenomena. This is a very valid and safe way to conduct such studies.”


The outcome of Ruby’s research have been the basis of several articles with which Stage Gate 11 is clarifying the opportunities which exist for screening solutions such as the Delta R Shoe Scanner. Michiel Poppink, CEO of Stage Gate 11, states: “Ruby has shown with her research, what we have been hearing from industry experts. The research shows that it is possible to detect concealed explosives with remote sensing technologies in the relevant scenarios. The arduous research was carried through in methodical fashion by Ruby. It is a testament to her tenacity that she succeeded. We congratulate her on the successful completion of her studies, and we wish her well in her professional pursuits.”