Orthogonal Sensors for Trace Detection

Download Project Report (Phase 2, Year 3)

Project Description

Overview and Significance

Currently, a portable explosives trace detection (ETD) system, capable of continuously monitoring peroxide-based and nitrogen-based explosives, is not available. Therefore, providing such a capability to the Homeland Security Enterprise is the goal of this research. Our ETD system, essentially a “digital dog nose” in its final form, will be small enough to be easily transported from place to place and will have the selectivity and sensitivity (detection limits) of a dog’s nose. This passive, non-invasive ETD system will provide a complementary tool to the existing Homeland Security Enterprise (HSE) toolbox, that would add to technologies currently available for screening purposes.

Detection and, more importantly, identification of explosives in the vapor phase is a difficult task. One of the most important challenges in trace detection that our sensor addresses is false positives and false negatives. To mitigate these false signals, libraries of characteristic signatures using our thermodynamic and conductometric sensing platforms will be generated as part of our continued effort to expand the library of threats. As a result, our sensor responses are not only redundant but are orthogonal as well.


[A] strength of the project is the ability to detect both nitrogen-based and peroxide-based explosives, making it a valuable addition to existing detection techniques available to the Homeland Security Enterprise.
Phase 2, Year 3 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