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Posted: February 18, 2009
SpectraFluidics to Develop Nanoparticle Explosives Detection Technology for U.S. Army
(Nanowerk News) SpectraFluidics Inc., a company that specializes in creating chemical detection technology, recently signed a contract with the U.S. Army to develop and commercialize its advanced, field-deployable chemical detector for explosives and biohazards.
SpectraFluidics will partner with UC Santa Barbara's Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies (ICB) and the U.S. Army's Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center to fully develop the highly sensitive and selective detector.
The device provides unparalleled, real-time sampling and detection of trace amounts of explosives vapor. The scientific basis of the technology was originally developed at UC Santa Barbara and was recently published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Piorek, et al., 2007).
The SpectraFluidics device is also valuable for detecting trace levels of illicit drugs and other forms of contraband.
"We are proud of our accomplishments and are excited to be partnering with UC Santa Barbara and the U.S. Army," said Craig R. Cummings, CEO of SpectraFluidics. "We are engineering the most sensitive and selective explosives detection technology in the industry."
The company's patented technology involves the integration of free-surface microfluidics (FSF) and nanoparticle techniques with surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS).
"The unique combination of five orders of selectivity from FSF, 10 orders of enhancement from SERS, and the specificity provided by the SERS detection technique creates a powerful tool," said Carl Meinhart, Chief Technology Officer of SpectraFluidics. "Our technology significantly improves explosives detection technology at a time of increasing security risks."
Since the SpectraFluidics explosives detector is based on nanotechnology, it is naturally small and can be engineered to operate within a small handheld detector. Other technologies on the market cannot be easily reduced in size without suffering performance degradation. Additionally, high sensitivity and specificity allow SpectraFluidics detector technology to eliminate the labor-intensive swabbing technique typically used for airport luggage screening.
SpectraFluidics' explosives detector exhibits the benefit of both the commercially-available "sniffer" technologies and hand-held Raman spectrometers. Further, the FSF/SERS technology offers the added advantage of detecting explosives in either vapor phase or solid phase (such as fertilizer-based explosives), which enables the device to be adaptable to emerging threats.
SpectraFluidics Inc. is a privately owned corporation focused on the development of advanced technologies for the field detection of trace levels of explosives, illicit drugs and other contraband. SpectraFluidics' primary offices and laboratories are located in the Storke-Hollister Research Center in Santa Barbara, Calif.