In Brief

US-based Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) agency is sponsoring a program to build portable laser sensors that could detect explosives, narcotics and other dangerous chemical weapons from 100 feet away.

Dubbed SILMARILS (Standoff Illuminator for Measuring Absorbance and Reflectance Infrared Light Signatures), the program aims to identify biological agents as well as chemical and explosive substances in real-time.

The Bombs are often planted in public areas, so it is important to detect them in a way that does not harm the surrounding infrastructure and human lives. The new technology could make the front line and home front safer for everyone.

The agency has funded five companies via the US Air Force, including LGS Innovations, Physical Sciences, Photonics, Block Engineering, and Leidos, through its SILMARILS program.

Currently, the technology used to detect narcotics, explosives, and other dangerous chemicals requires physical contact between human and X-ray-based machines like those used in airports for scanning suitcases and luggage, which is time-consuming and risky.

IARPA aims to lower this risk and potentially speed up the detection process of explosives and dangerous chemicals.
"This machine would use infrared lasers to measure the signature of chemical agents and different molecules so that it's much safer, practical way of interrogating a surface, like the bottom of someone's shoe, footprints and those kinds of things," said LGS Innovations CEO Kevin Kelly.
LGS Innovations could earn as much as $11 Million over 4 years through SILMARILS program.

SILMARILS program aims to create a "human-portable size" device that produces a steerable "eye-safe, visually unobservable illumination beam," while operates on a battery.

If created, the device that identifies biological agents, explosives, and chemical substances could potentially open doors for law enforcement, national security personnel, airport security officials and others to identify threats quickly.

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