You are on page 1of 8

Analysis on Concept of Metal Detector

Muhammad Husaini Bin Baharin

Abstract - Modern metal detectors use
advanced signal processing and phase
sensitivity, but the fundamental physics
principle is Faradays law. The simplest
form of a metal detector consists of an
oscillator producing an alternating
current. The oscillator drives current in
one coil (the field coil), which creates an
oscillating magnetic field, which in turn
induces an electromotive force (emf) in
the other coil. When any metal comes
within the detection pattern of a search
coil, eddy currents flow over its surface,
resulting in a loss of power in the
detectors circuits can sense.

A metal detector is an electronic
instrument which detects the presence of
metal nearby. Metal detectors are useful for
finding metal inclusions hidden within
underground. They often consist of a
handheld unit with a sensor probe which can
be swept over the ground or other objects. If
the sensor comes near a piece of metal this
is indicated by a changing tone in earphones,
or a needle moving on an indicator. Usually
the device gives some indication of distance;
the closer the metal is, the higher the tone in
the earphone or the higher the needle goes.

Another common type are stationary "walk

through" metal detectors used for security
screening at access points in prisons,
courthouses, and airports to detect concealed
metal weapons on a person's body.
The simplest form of a metal
detector consists of an oscillator producing
an alternating current that passes through a
coil producing an alternating magnetic field.
If a piece of electrically conductive metal is
close to the coil, eddy currents will be
induced in the metal, and this produces a
magnetic field of its own. If another coil is
used to measure the magnetic field (acting
as a magnetometer) , the change in the
magnetic field due to the metallic object can
be detected.
The first industrial metal detectors
were developed in the 1960s and were used
extensively for mineral prospecting and
other industrial applications. Uses include
de-mining (the detection of land mines), the
detection of weapons such as knives and
guns (especially in airport security),
geophysical prospecting, archaeology and
treasure hunting. Metal detectors are also
used to detect foreign bodies in food, and in
the construction industry to detect steel
reinforcing bars in concrete and pipes and
wires buried in walls and floors.
In this paper, we will see and study
the basic analysis of a typical metal detector.
We will go through how the metal detector

work, the limit of a metal detector, and the

uses and application of metal detector in our


A. Faradays law
The electric fields and magnetic
fields considered up to now have been
produced by stationary charges and moving
charges (currents), respectively. Imposing an
electric field on a conductor gives rise to a
current which in turn generates a magnetic
field. One could then inquire whether or not
an electric field could be produced by a
magnetic field. In 1831, Michael Faraday
discovered that, by varying magnetic field
with time, an electric field could be
generated. The phenomenon is known as
electromagnetic induction. Figure 1
illustrates one of Faradays experiments.
Faraday showed that no current is
registered in the galvanometer when bar
magnet is stationary with respect to the loop.
However, a current is induced in the loop
when a relative motion exists between the
bar magnet and the loop. In particular, the
galvanometer deflects in one direction as the
magnet approaches the loop, and the
opposite direction as it moves away.

Figure 1

Faradays experiment demonstrates

that an electric current is induced in the loop
by changing the magnetic field. The coil
behaves as if it were connected to an emf
source. Experimentally it is found that the
induced emf depends on the rate of change
of magnetic flux through the coil.

B. Analysis of Metal Detector

All of us have operated one-half of a
metal detector during most of our lifetime,
perhaps without knowing it, which is the
common radio. Metal Detection is achieved,
basically, by the transmission and reception
of a radio wave signal.
The block diagram in Figure 2
illustrates the basic components of a typical
metal detector being used in most
application. The battery is the power supply.
The transmitter electronic oscillator at the
left of the diagram generates a signal. The
transmitter signal current travels from the
transmitter oscillator through a wire (search
coil cable), to the search coils transmitter
winding (antenna), and the transmitter
antenna is a few turns of electrical wire,
generally wound in a circular fashion.

Consequently, they crowd together as they

pass through the circular antenna, but they
are not crowded on the outside. It is
fortunate this crowding takes place, because
the intensity (density) of the field lines is the
very phenomenon that enables metal
detection in the area adjacent to the search
coil to take place.
In Figure 3 note the area indicated as
the two dimensional detection patterns. This
is the site of maximum field crowding, it is
here that metal detection occurs as a result
of two major phenomena, eddy current
generation and electromagnetic field

Figure 3

Figure 2
As the current circulates in the
transmitter antenna, an electromagnetic field
is generated that flows out into the air in all
directions. If this electromagnetic field were
visible, it would appear to be in the shape of
a gigantic, three dimensional doughnut, with
the transmitter antenna embedded in its
center. Electromagnetic field theory states
that field lines cannot cross one another.

Whenever metal comes within the

detection pattern, electromagnetic field lines
penetrate the metals surface. Tiny
circulating currents called eddy currents are
caused to flow on the metal surface as
illustrated in Figure 4 . The power or
motivating force that causes eddy currents to
flow comes from the electromagnetic field
itself. Resulting power loss by this field (the
power used up in generating the eddy
currents) is sensed by the detectors circuits.
Also, eddy currents generate a secondary
electromagnetic field that, in some cases,

flows out into the surrounding medium. The

portion of the secondary field that intersects
the receiver winding, causes a detection
signal to occur in that winding. Thus, the
detector alerts the operator that metal has
been detected.

Figure 5

Figure 4
This electromagnetic field may face
distortion. When iron mineral comes near
and within the detection pattern, the
electromagnetic field lines are redistributed,
as shown in the Figure 5. This redistribution
upsets the balance of the transmitter and
receiver windings in the search coil,
resulting in power being induced into the
receiver winding. When this induced power
is sensed by the detector circuits, the
detector alerts its operator to the presence of
the iron mineral. Iron mineral detection is a
major problem for both manufacturers and
users of metal detectors. Of course, the
detector of iron mineral is welcomed by a
gold hunter who is looking for black
magnetic sand which can often signal the
presence of placer metal. On the other hand,
the treasure hunter, who is looking for coins,
jewelry, relics or gold nuggets usually, finds
iron mineral detection a nuisance.

Any substance penetrated by the

electromagnetic field is illuminated. Many
elements and different combinations of
minerals are within the soil, including
moisture, iron and other minerals, some
detectable an some not. Of course, it is
hoped that the targets being sought are also
present. A detectors response at any given
moment is caused by conductive metals and
minerals and ferrous non-conductive
minerals illuminated by its electromagnetic
field as shown in Figure 6 below. One
detector design criterion requires the
elimination of responses from undesirable
elements, permitting signals only from
desirable objects. How this discrimination is
accomplished depends on the type of

Figure 7

Figure 6
Coupling describes the penetration of
the electromagnetic field into any object
near the transmitter antenna. There is perfect
coupling into some objects such as wood,
fresh water, air, glass, and certain nonmineralized earth materials as shown in
Figure 7 below. Coupling is inhibited,
however, when the electromagnetic field
attempts to penetrate iron mineralization,
wetted salt, and other substances. This
inhibiting of the electromagnetic field, as
shown in the drawing on the facing page
decreases the detection capability of the
metal detector. Even though modern
instruments can eliminate the effects of iron
minerals, the electromagnetic field is still
inhibited (distorted), which results in

Numerous factors determine how

deeply an object can be detected. The
electromagnetic field generated by the
search coil transmitter antenna, flows out
into the surrounding matrix, generating eddy
currents on the surface of conductive
substances. Any detectable target that
sufficiently disturbs the field, is detected.
Three factors determine whether the
disturbance is sufficient for detection,
electromagnetic field strength, target size
and surface area.
Targets can be detected better and
more deeply simply because of their size.
Larger targets are easier to detect because
they produce more eddy currents. One
object with twice the surface area of another,
will produce a detection signal twice that of
the smaller object but it will not necessarily
be detected twice as far. By the same
reasoning, the larger target will produce the
same amplitude detection signal at a
distance farther away from the bottom of the
search coil than the smaller target. This
situation is illustrated in Figure 8.


Figure 8

C. Uses and Applications of Metal Detector


Treasure hunting

Metal detectors are being used

widely in various type of application. One of
the common is for treasure hunting.
Different types of treasure hunting that use
metal detector technology include "coin
shooting" or coin hunting, prospecting for
gold or silver, historical artifact hunting, and
beach combing for valuables lost on the
beach. Serious coin and relic hunters will do
an enormous amount of research beforehand
to determine where specific, potentially
valuable sites are located. The depth to
which a metal detector can pinpoint a buried
metal object depends largely on the strength
and expense of the model. The typical
amateur treasure-hunting metal detector can
only detect metal objects one or two feet
below the surface.


The other application of metal

detector, as it can be noticed by many
people, that is for airport and building
security. Metal detectors are used for airport
and building security to determine whether
guns, knives, or other weapons are being
transported onto aircraft or into public
buildings. The technology and efficiency of
a security metal detector is much more
advanced than that of an amateur treasurehunting detector. There are two types of
security metal detectors: the walk-through
detector, and the wand detector.
A walk-through metal detector
consists of a metal-detecting arch or "gate"
through which an individual passes to be
screened. If an alarm sounds, an operator
stops the individual from walking past the
checkpoint, and proceeds to investigate the
cause and the source of the alarm.
A wand detector is slightly more
laborious to use, but it is a much less
expensive alternative to a walk-through
detector. Security personnel pass the wand
slowly over all sides of the body of the
individual being screened, with an alarm
within the wand sounding when metal is


Food Processing Industry

The next application of metal

detector ins in food processing industry. In
the food processing industry one of the most
common foreign materials found in food is
unintentionally introduced to food products
and become a safety hazard to consumers.
Food processors need to minimize and
control the risk of foreign materials in food.
One approach to detect metal contamination
of food products is the use of metal
A formal metal detection program
will help to insure product quality. Metal
detectors may be used in various phases of
production. A combination of finished and
bulk ingredient and product inspection gives
the best performance. Detectors may need to
be placed after certain process equipment
(such as size-reduction) that are prone to
breaking or chipping metal materials.
A sensitivity standard (or standards)
should be set for the entire facility. An
important aspect of this is to identify an
agreed upon minimum particle type and
size. For example, a typical detection
standard for finished product might be to
remove all spherical, non-magnetic particles
larger than 2.0-mm and all spherical,
magnetic particles larger than 1.5-mm. Only
detectors that meet these standards would be
considered for purchase and installation. The
conditions should be clearly marked on the
side of any installed detector and samples of
the correct diameters should be available for
testing the unit.

Metal detectors should be operated at

the maximum sensitivity setting for a given
sensitivity setting will allow the detector to
perform reliably for extended periods of
time without excessive false rejects.
Scheduled testing of the detector and reject
device (with ferrous and nonferrous metal
samples) will confirm proper operation.
Intervals between tests can be determined by
the consequence of a failed test. Testing
every two to four hours is typical. A testing
procedure should be established and
followed. A plan of action must be specified
for failed tests. Every effort should be made
to identify, document and correct the source
of detected metal.


Construction Industry

Metal detectors are also used in the

construction industry to locate steel
reinforcement bars embedded in concrete,
and to pinpoint metal pipes and wires in
floors and walls. This is useful in avoiding
unnecessary damage when replacing
plumbing or wiring in a building or house.
Some models of metal detector used for
construction industry purposes bear a
resemblance to the wand detector used for
security purposes, while others more closely
resemble those used for treasure hunting.

Metal detector is an electronic
instrument that uses the concept of
electromagnetic force and other fundamental
concept that we have learnt in this
Measurement course. By doing this
research, we can realize that anything that
we use in everyday live that looks very
complex, is actually build from the
fundamental concept.
Using these concepts, such a useful
instrument can be build. Metal detector are
widely used in many important field, such as
in metal searching, security, food
processing, construction industry and many
more. Using the knowledge and creativity,
our life become more secure, comfortable
and easier.


S. Yamazaki and H. Nakane, Basic

Analysis of a Metal Detector
IEEE Trans. Instrum. Meas., VOL. 51,
NO. 4, AUGUST 2002.


Carl V. Nelson, Metal Detection and

Classification Technologies JOHNS
VOLUME 25, NUMBER 1 (2004).


Garrett, C. L., Modern Metal Detectors,

RAM Publishing (2002).


B. Candy, Metal Detector, Basic and

Theory Minelab.


P. Novek, J. Roh, J. imnek, and P.

Ripka, Metal Detector Signal Imprints
49, NO. 1, JANUARY 2013.


A Guide to Metal Detection in the

Food Manufacturing Industry, LOMA


How Metal Detector Work, KellyCo

Metal Detector.


J. A Corbyn, Pulse Induction Metal

Detector Wireless World, March 1980.


I. E Irodov Basic Laws of

Mir Publisher
Moscow , 1986.


U.A Bakshi, A.V Bakshi, Electronic

Instrumentation Technical Publications
Jan 1, 2009.