Standoff Sensing for Low Volatility Chemicals Using Terahertz Radiation-Enhanced-Emission-of-Fluorescence

Award Information
Department of Defense
Defense Threat Reduction Agency
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
DTRA 09-005
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Zomega Terahertz Corporation
1223 Peoples Ave, Troy, NY, 12180
Hubzone Owned:
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Thomas Tongue
(518) 833-0577
Business Contact:
Thomas Tongue
(518) 833-0577
Research Institution:
OBJECTIVE: A prototype unit capable of detecting trace amounts of low-volatility chemicals from distances of 25+ meters. DESCRIPTION: The ability to detect trace chemicals from safe distances is critical. When those chemicals are low-volatility (as they are for many explosives), the difficulty of the problem greatly increases. Innovative solutions are being sought to address this technology problem. There are no acceptable products available that can detect trace amounts of low-volatility chemicals from relatively large distances, especially ones that are small and light-weight. Hand-held chemical detection units either don't have the ability to detect from a distance (10s of meters), at very low concentrations, or with needed precision, resolution and sensitivity. Products which do have these characteristics tend to be fairly large and not readily transportable. Current research and development in this area generally involves spectroscopic methods including Raman, FTIR and terahertz. Each of these methods has had some success, but they still have problems in one or more of the characteristics mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, all of the characteristics are necessary for an acceptable product that can be used safely in many operational environments. The goal of this topic is to develop a technology that is capable of detecting trace amounts of low-volatility chemicals (for example, explosives and persistent chemical warfare agents) from large distances (25-30 meters or more). The end product should be small and light-weight. It must be able to detect multiple classes of chemicals (e.g., organic nitrates, organophosphonates) from a variety of surfaces (both porous and non-porous). Ideally, the end product will distinguish and identify the target chemicals from interfering substances (e.g., other chemicals, dust/dirt, diesel fumes). The end product can be from any technology area, assuming the technology is safe for general operational use. The technology must be innovative and not a general modification or adaptation of current research. If the proposed effort uses a technology currently being developed for this type of application (e.g., Raman, FTIR, terahertz), the application itself or its adaptation must be innovative. PHASE I: The technology at the end of Phase 1 should be able to demonstrate a proof-of-concept detection of at least 1 class of low-volatility chemicals on surfaces from distances of 3 meters or greater. PHASE II: The prototype unit should be able to detect at least two different classes of low-volatility chemicals, present in trace amounts, on at least 5 different surfaces (to include both porous and non-porous surfaces) from distances approaching 25 meters or greater. Detection needs to occur in the presence of common operational interferents (e.g., dirt/dust, oil/grease, fuel and/or fuel vapor). The prototype should be no larger than man-portable, with a strategy to reduce the product to a size approaching hand-held. PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: In addition to Defense applications, the technology would have applications in Homeland Security, hazard response and/or mitigation, and industrial process or product control or assurance. REFERENCES: 1. M W P Petryk, "Promising Spectroscopic Techniques for the Portable Detection of Condensed-Phase Contaminants on Surfaces," Applied Spectroscopy Reviews 42, 2007, 287-343. 2. National Resarch Council of the National Academies: Division on Earth and Life Studies, Existing and Potential Standoff Explosives Detection Techniques, The National Academies Press, 2004. 3. SAVER Program Support Office, "Guide for the Selection of Chemical Agent and Toxic Industrial Material Detection Equipment for Emergency First Responders, Guide 100-04, Vol. I and II," System Assessment and Validation for Emergency Responders, 2005. 4. National Resarch Council of the National Academies: Division on Earth and Life Studies, Testing and Evalulation of Standoff Chemical Agent Detectors, The National Academies Press, 2003. 5. National Resarch Council of the National Academies: Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences, Assessment of Millimeter-Wave and Terahertz Technology for Detection and Identification of Concealed Explosives and Weapons, The National Academies Press, 2007. 6. M. G. Mayes, "Miniature field deployable Terahertz source," Proceedings of SPIE: Defense and Security Conference, Orlando, FL, 2006. 7. H Schubert and A Rimski-Korsakov (eds.), Stand-off Detection of Suicide Bombers and Mobile Subjects; Springer 2006, 151-165. 8. D. J. Cook, M. G. Allen, B. K. Decker, R. T. Wainner, J. M. Hensley, and H. S. Kindle, Detection of High Explosives with THz Radiation", The Joint 30th International Conference on Infrared and Millimeter Waves and 13th International Conference on Terahertz Electronics, Williamsburg, VA 2005. 9. X.-C. Zhang, "THz Wave Technology & Applications," SPIE 2007 Course Lecture Notes, 2007,

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