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SBIR Phase I: Advanced Terahertz Image Processing Systems

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1938172
Agency Tracking Number: 1938172
Amount: $225,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: IH
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2019
Award Year: 2019
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2019-10-15
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2020-09-30
Small Business Information
United States
DUNS: 081175501
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Alexander Sappok
 (844) 729-7328
Business Contact
 Alexander Sappok
Phone: (844) 729-7328
Research Institution

The broader impact of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will enhance both public safety and public health by addressing two problems: 1) Approximately 3,500 letters containing white powders and over 5,500 explosive threats are received by private and public offices each year; these may be hoaxes that result in temporary shut-down and lost productivity; or more critically, they may contain anthrax, ricin, fentanyl, or an explosive device. 2) The opioid epidemic is fueled by international delivery of powders contained in small packets, pills, or liquid formulations; all require to non-invasive detection. This project will develop novel image processing techniques utilizing terahertz imaging to detect harmful items concealed within letters and packages. If successful, terahertz scanners powered by these image analysis algorithms may become as ubiquitous as copiers, printers, and document scanners in any corporate office, addressing critical public health and safety challenges. The proposed project will develop image processing and computer vision techniques to capitalize on the multidimensional, dynamic 3-D terahertz imaging dataset captured via desktop-based terahertz scanners. No commercially-viable approaches exist, capable of automatically detecting threats in real-time from terahertz imaging data streams for security applications. This project aims to develop robust techniques to both enhance the capabilities of a human operator and automatically detect specific threats. One non-trivial challenge is the detection of liquid/particle motion within the context of a moving reference frame - such as the motion of liquid within a small pouch, itself concealed within a moving package. The terahertz imaging system is capable of detecting single drops of liquid (50 mg) and imaging the movement of powders within explosives in real-time. Another focus area for the project will be the integration of the 3-D terahertz data set together with contextual information gleaned from other sensor inputs, as well as external sources due to the connected nature of the device (internet of things). The fusion of this information with the terahertz data will provide unparalleled detection capabilities and have far reaching impacts in the field of dynamic, 3-D imaging, well beyond threat detection. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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