FLIR Systems is to team with Purdue University in a three-year effort to rapidly develop next-generation chemical detection solutions based on ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) and mass spectrometry (MS) technologies, the company announced on 18 March.

Under a contract from the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency valued at up to $8 million (€6.7 million), the two entities will transform their cutting-edge research in ion mobility design and two-dimensional mass spectrometry (2D MS/MS) into a modular, flexible system for chemical detection. The platform will be fielded as a lightweight, manportable sensor for downrange chemical screening, as a sensor payload for unmanned platforms, and as an embedded real-time monitor for chemical releases. The programme goal is to provide combat troops with smaller, faster, more interconnected chemical detection and identification tools, for use in a wide range of scenarios.

The IMS/MS project will leverage recent innovations from FLIR and Purdue to further develop compact hardware, with novel MS scanning techniques, that allow far more chemical identification data to be collected from a single sample analysis. The work also has the potential to change the paradigm of fielded chemical detection, by removing the need for pre-recorded data libraries of known threats. Advanced algorithms will enable variants of threats that have not been seen before to be rapidly classified and identified. The complete system will also include modular front-ends, to facilitate wider sampling analysis, as well as multiple options for communication protocols, power inputs, and other links to support a broad range of detection missions.

The effort will result in a mature, integrated IMS/MS prototype, ready for transition to an acquisition programme of record. Dr David Cullin, VP in FLIR’s Sensors business, stated that “[…] speedy and accurate chemical classification is paramount to countering these dangerous threats.

FLIR has established an enviable reputation for innovative chemical detection with an entire family of devices, of which the identiFINDER R400 (illustrated) is the most recent iteration. (Photo: FLIR Systems)

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