I created a cost-effective landmine detector that can save thousands and thousands of innocent lives. This landmine detector, nicknamed POLO, was made purely using the equipment from my high school laboratory. I used resistors, wires, and capacitors for the circuitry, as well as a 3D printed case to put the circuit in. The landmine detector works by polarizing the incoming light through a liquid crystal panel so that people can detect landmines more easily. Most Antipersonnel landmines are made of plastic since metal detectors can easily find metallic landmines. Plastic and other man-made items, such as paint and glass, have a very high degree of polarization, which means they are more easily polarized. I have a circuit which acts as an alternator and repeatedly powers the liquid crystal panel with 5 volts and turns it off. This creates a flashing effect which allows people to see the hidden, camouflaged landmine.s This is because the natural surrounding, such as the grass and leaves, have a low degree of linear polarization which leads to them not having a flashing effect. But since the plastic landmines do, they stand out more which makes them easier to detect. This technique is extremely powerful due to the fact that it is so simple yet extremely effective. It will allow thousands of people in war-torn countries to avoid injuries and deaths from landmines since this device can be mass produced and distributed. It is extremely user-friendly and cost-effective as well. This landmine detector will save lives.

What inspired you (or your team)?

I participate in Model United Nations. I go to conferences every month and I try to solve modern-day complex world problems with my fellow delegates by creating resolutions. One of the topics at one of the conferences was landmines and how they cause thousands of civilian deaths, mainly after the wars have ended. At the conference, we came up with a resolution to solve that problem. But in the real world, this problem was still a problem that hasn’t been solved. And so, I decided to see if I could help people see those landmines before they get injured so that they could avoid those areas. I asked my science research teacher if there was anyway to detect a landmine without expensive military equipment. He introduced me to polarization and how useful it is. At that point, I decided to make a user-friendly landmine detector that uses polarization on a $20 budget. And it worked.