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U.S. Naval Research Lab develops laser technology to detect explosives from afar


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 27th, 2021

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is looking to commercialize a technology that uses lasers to detect a trace amount of explosives from a distance.

The Infrared Backscatter Imaging Spectroscopy (IBIS) device shoots a quantum cascade laser onto a target — the door handle of a truck, for example — and uses an infrared imaging camera to collect the backscatter, or the reflection of chemical particles from the laser. The process takes less than three seconds.

“We hope to prevent threats from reaching their targets with early detection,” says Christopher Breshike, a research chemist at NRL. “And so how we’re going to do that is by looking for trace particles left behind through fingerprint deposition.”

The IBIS device is a major improvement on current trace chemical detection, which typically involves close-range swabbing and longer detection times.

TechLink, the tech transfer intermediary for the U.S. Department of Defense, is helping NRL take the technology to market. The lab has already secured U.S. patents on the technology and is now seeking industry partners to commercialize IBIS into new products or services.

“This is a great dual-use tech with commercial applications like airport screenings and transportation security,” says Dan Swanson, senior technology manager at TechLink. “And companies can get a head start by leveraging NRL’s science and experience and securing rights to the IP.”

Source: TechLink

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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