Block MEMS Awarded Phase II of $10.7 Million IARPA Contract to Detect Explosives and other Threats
Marlborough, MA – January 8, 2018
Block MEMS, LLC (Block) has been awarded Phase II of the Intelligence Advanced Research Programs Activity (IARPA) Program for the standoff detection of explosives and toxic chemical threats. Block was chosen for Phase II in a competitive down-selection process.
Under Phase I, Block successfully demonstrated the ability to detect trace quantities of explosives and other threats on multiple surfaces at 1 and 5 meter standoff distances in a few seconds.
A critical achievement under Phase I has been the development of a benchtop system based on quantum cascade lasers and an innovative chemical detection algorithm. The algorithm combines powerful data processing techniques, simulations of light/material interactions, and modeling of anticipated detected signatures in order to eliminate the effect of clutter, reduce false alarm rates, and improve limits of detection.
The IARPA program is called "Standoff Illuminator for Measuring Absorbance and Reflectance Infrared Light Signatures" (SILMARILS). The contract value of the program is now at $10.7 Million. The program is managed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
Dr. Anish Goyal, Block's VP of Technology and Principal Investigator of the SILMARILS Program at Block, commented, "I am very pleased to receive the second Phase of the SILMARILS Program. The achievements of the previous Phase have taken a significant step towards the ultimate goal of the SILMARILS Program to be able to detect explosives and other chemicals at standoff distances of 30 and 50 meters. The ability to not only detect Chemical Warfare Agents (CWAs), but Explosives and Pharmaceutical Based Agents (such as Fentanyl) as well at these standoff distances is addressing a strong need within the Intelligence Community, the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security."
Dr. Petros Kotidis, Block's CEO added, "We are honored to receive this award and I am very proud of the accomplishment of the Block team under the SILMARILS Program. The technology being developed under this program has far reaching applications within the Security Markets, as it will eventually enable the highly sought-after capability of Standoff Detection of trace chemical threats. Ranging from protection of soft targets against explosive terrorist attacks and faster check-in lines at transportation terminals and airports, to detection of Chemical Warfare Agents (CAWs) and better surveying of contaminated ground and surfaces, the SILMARILS capability will revolutionize the field of chemical security."
About Block MEMS/Engineering LLC:
Block is a leading development, engineering and manufacturing company focusing on the commercialization of high performance Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCLs) and FTIR spectrometers. Block has been awarded numerous government contracts over the past decade for the application of its technologies toward the detection of explosives, buried IEDs, chemical warfare agents, toxic industrial materials and chemical clouds. Block's PORTHOS™ is a person-portable, passive FTIR spectrometer system that remotely detects chemical threats as far as three miles and provides early warning of chemical warfare agents. LaserWarn™ is a QCL-based system that is used to provide early warning against chemical attacks by establishing a "chemical trip-wire" using eye-safe laser beams. It is also used for safety, environmental, and fence-line monitoring of toxic and fugitive gases over a large area. Block's unique QCL-based analyzers include the LaserSense™ Gas Analyzer for the detection and quantification of a wide variety of gases for process control and field applications in the oil, gas, and energy industries. The LaserTune™ product line of QCL-based Infrared Sources is used for corporate research and academic markets and OEM applications.