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Chemical Remote Sensor for Proliferation

Award Information

Department of Energy
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2011 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
50 d
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Mesa Photonics, LLC
1550 Pacheco St Santa Fe, NM 87505-3914
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: Yes
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2011
Title: Chemical Remote Sensor for Proliferation
Agency: DOE
Contract: DE-FG02-11ER90080
Award Amount: $150,000.00


Mesa Photonics has proposes development of a remote sensor to be used to detect clandestine nuclear material processing. We have identified a volatile chemical that is indicative of key steps in uranium isotope enrichment, and can be detected readily at low concentrations using optical methods. Small plumes that are about 1 m across and containing about 5 parts per million (ppm) of the marker can be readily detected. It should also be possible to generate two-dimensional images of the vapor plumes. We envision two remote sensing configurations. Both use the sun as the primary light source. In one case, the sensor views the sun directly; this is known as solar occultation. The other relies on sunlight that is diffusely scattered from solid surfaces such as concrete or sand. The solar occultation method should give better detection limits and can operate several miles from the plume, but has significant constrains on sensor positioning. Diffuse reflectance will be less sensitive, but is a more general approach and can be adapted for two-dimensional imaging. Solar-occultation-based remote sensors will be about the size of a pair of binoculars and draw 5 W. Battery-powered operation is feasible, as is fully automated, untended operation. Sensors that use scattered sunlight will be somewhat larger with the exact size and weight depending on imaging specifications. It will be possible to design sensor systems that can be carried by unmanned aerial vehicles such as drones. The proposed Phase I project entails designing and building an optical receiver containing the optics and electronics needed for remote sensing; demonstrating sensing capabilities in the laboratory using solid-state light sources in place of the sun; and, field testing the device by direct comparison with a well-established measurement method. A prototype remote sensor will be developed in Phase II and field tested. The prototype will be fully automated and operate unattended for long periods

Principal Investigator:

David Bomse

Business Contact:

David Bomse
Small Business Information at Submission:

Mesa Photonics, Llc
1550 Pacheco St Santa Fe, NM 87505-3914

EIN/Tax ID: 431999584
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No