Block MEMS wins $3.5M DARPA contract to protect urban environments against chemical threats

Block MEMS eye-safe lasers will be used to to generate chemical detection maps via standoff sensing in a complex 3D urban topography.

The LaserTune (left), a packaged QCL by Block Engineering, is the light source in the company's LaserWarn 'trip-wire' open-path gas-sensing system (right).
The LaserTune (left), a packaged QCL by Block Engineering, is the light source in the company's LaserWarn "trip-wire" open-path gas-sensing system (right).
Block Engineering

Block MEMS (Southborough, MA), which develops quantum-cascade-laser (QCL)-based infrared detection systems, has been awarded a $3.5M contract from the Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA), as part of the SIGMA+ Program. The goal of the program is to develop a persistent real-time early detection system for the full spectrum of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threats at the city-to-region scale.

The SIGMA+ program builds on DARPA's previous SIGMA program, which began in 2014 as an effort to significantly advance scalable detection capabilities to counter the threat of radiological and nuclear (RN) WMDs. SIGMA developed thousands of high-capability, low-cost detectors and networked them to demonstrate large-scale, continuously-streaming physical sensor networks.

The work will be done under a collaborative effort led by nonprofit scientific research institute SRI International (Menlo Park, CA), called Localization and Characterization of Chemical Anomalies in Urban Settings (LOCCUS). LOCCUS will combine SRI's point sensing technology with Block's standoff sensing technology to deliver an adaptive high-sensitivity ruggedized detection capability to exceed today's chemical sensing capabilities.

Under this contract, Block MEMS will use its eye-safe laser capability to generate chemical detection maps via standoff sensing in a complex three-dimensional urban topography.

Block MEMS is affiliated with Block Engineering; both supply laser-based chemical solids and gas detection systems for the safety, security, and environmental markets.

Source: https://www.blockeng.com/news/pr073019.html

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