Orthogonal Sensors for Trace Detection

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Project Description

Overview and Significance

The use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) has dramatically increased over the past decade, and thus, there is a “real” need to reliably detect explosives and/or explosive precursors in venues, where public safety may be compromised. Currently, a small-footprint, handheld explosives trace detection (ETD) system, capable of continuously monitoring a wide variety of threats, is not available. Therefore, providing such a capability to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its stakeholders is a primary goal of this research.

In addition to lowering the detection limit while maintaining adequate selectivity to potential threat molecules, other challenges face this ALERT research project. Among these is that the ETD system should be adaptable and should not signal false positives and false negatives. That is, as the nature of the “threat” changes and new explosives become threats, the sensor system must detect these new threats. Our sensor does so simply by identifying a catalyst for a particular analyte and adding this characteristic response to the existing library of responses. Combinatorial chemistry techniques were used for the rapid screening of new catalysts, and a number of new catalyst-analyte pairings were developed as part of the ALERT project. Our approach not only advances the current state of threat detection for explosives but builds upon a core technology comprised of two robust sensing platforms: a thermodynamic sensing platform and a conductometric sensing platform.

Great progress has been made in the pursuit of unique signatures or sensor responses to specific catalyst-analyte interactions, using our dynamic scanning protocol
Phase 2 Year 2 Annual Report
Project Leader
  • Otto J. Gregory
    URI Center for Sensor and Instrumentation Research

Faculty and Staff Currently Involved in Project
  • Alan Davis
    Industry Researcher
    Naval Undersea Welfare Center

  • Michael J. Platek
    Research Enigneer

  • Anthony Fascia
    Research Enigneer/Scientist
    Hope High School, Providence, Rhode Island

Students Currently Involved in Project
  • Mitch Champlin
  • Elizabeth Shokunbi
  • Jimmy Chan
  • Zach Caron
  • Vivek Patel