Orthogonal Chip Based Electronic Sensors for Chemical Agents

Period of Performance: 11/30/2009 - 11/30/2011


Phase 2 STTR

Recipient Firm

Seacoast Science, Inc.
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive, #0411
La Jolla, CA 92093
Institution POC


Recent years have seen a shift in threats to US national security. Today increasing focus for national security is management of terrorist activities. Deliberately exposing a civilian population to chemicals and explosives to cause harm represents a looming terrorist threat. Early detection and identification is a difficult but essential element to minimizing the threat. The Seacoast Science/University of California San Diego team believes that a successful portable real time chemical detector must contain a suite of sensor technologies. Thus the ultimate goal with this program is to incorporate multiple miniature sensing technologies into a single portable unit. Individually any one technology may fall short, but used in concert many of their technical limitations are eliminated. We feel that this is the solution to the selectivity and reliability problems that plague most sensor systems. This technique will combine the strengths of the existing independent and uncorrelated detection technologies and minimize their weaknesses. The concept is simple but implementation will be very challenging and we believe this combination works well with the DOD STTR because the research to be carried out requires an interdisciplinary approach in which physicists, materials scientists, chemists and engineers collaborate, from academia and business, toward the same aim. BENEFIT: Key benefits of this program are related to the technical achievements and potential product for military applications. The technical work will lead to further advances in multi-dimensional, multi-technology solutions to difficult chemical detection problems. False alarms, lack of selectivity, and lack of sensitivity plague current technologies. Seacoast s approach combines a preconcentrator, to achieve high sensitivity and multiple sensing technologies, to fill coverage gaps and improve selectivity and lower false alarm probability. The finished product will allow military user to have a reliable, hand-held, lightweight detector for detecting vapors from CWAs and explosive materials. The resulting system could be deployed with warfighters, unmanned robotic systems, by medical personnel, and first responders. The modular design and ability to tune the sensor chips to specific target chemical classes means the device can easily be adapted to civilian or industrial detection applications.