X-ray systems dominate the installed base of airport baggage scanning systems for explosives detection. The majority are conveyer systems with projection line scanners. These systems can achieve a high throughput but exhibit a high false positive rate and require significant operator involvement. Systems employing computed
tomography (CT) are currently being installed at a rapid rate. These can provide good discrimination of levels of xray absorption coefficient and can largely circumvent superimposition effects. Nonetheless CT measures only x-ray absorption coefficient per voxel which does not provide a means of specific material identification resulting in many false positives, and it is relatively straightforward to configure explosive materials so that they are undetectable by CT systems. Diffraction-based x-ray systems present a solution to this problem. They detect and measure atomic layer spacings in crystalline and microcrystalline materials with high sensitivity. This provides a means of specific material identification. The majority of explosive compounds are well crystallized solids at room temperature. X-ray diffraction systems using both conventional wavelength-dispersive diffraction and fixed-angle, multi-wavelength diffraction for improved throughput are described. Large-area, flat-panel x-ray detector technology coupled with an extended x-ray source will permit a full 3D volumetric x-ray diffraction scan of a bag in a single pass, (patent pending).