Under the contract Block will adapt its LaserScan™ spectrometer to detect from a distance recently dug up soil, which on dirt roads is a possible indicator of a buried explosive hazard, also called an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
Daniel J. Cavicchio, Jr., Block's Executive Chairman, commented: "This contract brings our total product development awards over the past few months from the Department of Defense to over $7.8 million. Awards have come from multiple branches of DOD all related to Block's unique capabilities to detect substances from a standoff distance. These capabilities include Block's LaserScan product, which uses widely tunable quantum cascade lasers, and our PORTHOS (TM), which uses a compact rugged Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectrometer. We are pleased that DOD has expressed its confidence in Block's new products."
Petros Kotidis, Block's CEO commented: "Buried IEDs have been a major cause of death to our troops at our theaters of operations. Although techniques exist to find buried objects, these techniques can often be fooled. Our LaserScan will provide the soldier with another important tool to avoid triggering these IEDs. This new contract will enable us to miniaturize and ruggedize to military specs the LaserScan so it can be used by dismounted soldiers. Eventually this product will also be mounted on ground vehicles, including small robots, to aid route clearance operations and protect military convoys."
To support JIEDDO, the contract will be managed by the Army's Night Vision and Electronics Sensors Directorate, Ft. Belvoir, VA, and the Sentel Corporation, Alexandria, VA. The miniaturized LaserScan, equipped with different recognition software, will also have wide applicability in a number of commercial applications, such as pharmaceutical cleaning validation, analysis of surface layers, detection of residual silicone, oils and lubricants, real-time, on-line monitoring of heterogeneous catalysis and tribology.