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SBIR Phase II:Advanced Terahertz Image Processing Systems

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2112268
Agency Tracking Number: 2112268
Amount: $1,000,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: IH
Solicitation Number: NSF 20-545
Solicitation Year: 2020
Award Year: 2022
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2021-12-15
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2023-11-30
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

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will address one of the most significant physical security gaps facing corporations and government organizations alike, namely physical goods, deliveries, and mail items moving in and out of buildings.According to the US Postal Service, approximately 3,500 letters containing white powders are received each year.In the best case, the letter is a hoax resulting in temporary shut-down and lost productivity.In the worst case, the powder may be anthrax, ricin, or fentanyl, resulting in hospitalization or death.Recently the opioid epidemic has also grown to become a national health crisis, with a large fraction of opioids entering the U.S. via the international mail system.There is a large unmet need to non-invasively detect these materials as well.This project will address these challenges head-on with a terahertz scanner that can image trace amounts of powders and liquids in the mail, along with conventional threats including weapons and explosives.The effort is focused on developing automated image analysis tools to increase its effectiveness.If successful, the project will address critical public health and safety challenges.The intellectual merit of this project centers on the development of image processing and computer vision techniques to capitalize on the multidimensional, dynamic three-dimensional (3-D) terahertz imaging dataset.No commercially viable approaches are currently capable of automatically detecting threats in real-time from terahertz imaging data streams.This project aims to develop robust techniques to both enhance the capabilities of a human operator and automatically detect specific threats.One challenge is the detection of liquid or particle motion within the context of a moving reference frame – such as the motion of liquid within a small pouch, which is itself concealed within a moving package.The subject THz 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.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, and 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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