SpectraFluidics Inc., a company that specializes in developing trace level chemical detection technology, recently expanded its relationship with the U.S. Army to develop the next generation of handheld explosive detectors.
The three-year contract between SpectraFluidics, UC Santa Barbara's Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies (ICB) and the U.S. Army's Edgewood Chemical Biological Center builds on the partnership begun in 2008, under which SpectraFluidics first developed and proved its advanced, chemical detection technology for explosives and biohazards. This new agreement allows for further development of the detector device.
"Detection of Improvised Explosive Devices is one of the Army's most pressing issues," says Craig Cummings, Chief Executive Officer of SpectraFluidics. "Our detector is highly sensitive, molecular specific, and will detect a wide range of explosive agents, including homemade, improvised explosives."
The proposed lightweight, portable device combines free-surface microfluidics and nanoparticle techniques with surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS). Other technologies on the market cannot be easily reduced in size without suffering significant performance degradation.
The SpectraFluidics patented technology allows for the direct detection of trace levels of airborne explosives with minimal user interaction. Ultimately, the device will provide unparalleled, real-time sampling and detection of trace amounts of explosives in either vapor phase or condensed media phase.
"Our novel microfluidic/SERS device allows us to overcome the limitations of previous Raman systems aimed at explosives detection, resulting in significant improvement in detection sensitivity, selectivity and specificity," says Carl Meinhart, PhD, and Chief Technology Officer of SpectraFluidics. "It is designed to function in non-ideal environments, and has the unique ability to discriminate energetic molecules from background clutter."