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Personal chemical agent detector ready for trials

A chemical agent detector, potentially no larger than the wallet you carry in your pocket, is in development with support of the Office of Naval Research.

The device is designed with an array of multiple miniature sensors, and offers sensitivity in the parts per billions for chemical warfare threats including nerve agents such as VX, Soman and Sarin as well as blister agents such as mustard gas. The wearer of the portable detector from Sensor Research and Development Corporation of Orono, Maine - will know immediately if a dangerous chemical agent has been released.

"SRD's system, while very sophisticated, will be relatively inexpensive, easy to operate and will require minimal power," said ONR program scientist Joe Brumfield. "It tells the wearer to go put on protective gear and mask."

Sensor Research and Development Corporation created the detector using a hybrid of sensor technologies. The combination of new approaches to both semi-conducting metal oxide (SMO) and polymer-coated surface acoustic wave devices (PSAWs) is what allows the detector to have the capability of differentiating the warfare agent threat from the background environment, reducing false alarms.

The result of merging the SMO and PSAW technologies resulted in a chemical sensor that is reusable, with high sensitivity, fast reaction time and a low false alarm rate. Field trials for the chemical detector are scheduled for April.


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Contact: Gail Cleere
cleereg@onr.navy.mil
703-696-4987
Office of Naval Research
12-Mar-2003


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