Currently the CSST has three on-going programs: Integrated Detection of Hazardous Materials (IDHM) Program, Nano-Sensor Program, and Proteomics Sensor Program. During this year, two new programs will be initiated: Humanitarian Demining Program and Aviation and Homeland Security Program.

The present research and development efforts for the CSST Programs are focused on sensing science and technology applications in the areas of aviation security, military installation security, and homeland security, chemical/biological agent detection, explosives detection, and counter-terrorist activities. Each of these are leading national security issues and priorities. The technologies presently deployed do not provide a fast, cost effective and reliable detection system. Even the newest equipment suffers from high false alarm rates. A new generation of detection and security technology needs to be developed and deployed. No single detector technology has the capability of attaining a good detection rate with low false signals for all types of energetic, chemical, biological and hazardous materials in different environments. Therefore, there is a compelling and urgent need for developing an integrated detection system employing multiple detectors of different types.

The Integrated Detection of Hazardous Materials Program

Although the goal of the IDHM program is to provide the Department of Defense with new innovative sensors for the detection of chemical and biological hazardous materials, the same techniques can be applied to many other areas and problems of national and societal interests and needs: counter-terrorist activities and national homeland security, nuclear contamination avoidance, explosives detection, aviation security, humanitarian demining, illicit drugs and contraband detection, medical imaging and sensors, environmental monitoring, etc.

The IDHM Program is a Purdue-Navy project jointly managed by Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division (NSWC Crane) and Purdue Center for Sensing Science and Technology (CSST). It is a Purdue-Crane initiative for improving the capabilities of the United States to detect Weapons of Mass Destruction. It started in August 2000.

The IDHM Program has been working on multiple detector systems using differing technology since August 2000. The tragic and horrifying events of the terrorists’ attacks on September 11, 2001 make the IDHM Program and other Programs of the CSST extremely relevant and very urgent for national and homeland security.

Currently, the CSST Programs involve ~25 faculty members, ~10 post-doctoral appointees, ~27 graduate students, and ~6 undergraduate students. The current IDHM projects for biological and chemical agents detection are:

  • ion-trap mass spectrometers
  • electromagnetic detectors
  • neutron-based detection
  • micro-sensors
  • membrance separation methodologies
  • integrated electronic microscale sensors
  • biochemical terahertz identification
  • biochemical nanoscale sensors
  • intelligent integration of detection systems

New CSST Programs for FY2003 and Beyond

In addition to chemical/biological agent detection R&D funded by the IDHM program, counter-terrorist activities, aviation security, UXO clearance, and humanitarian demining are also leading national priorities. The Center will develop new generation of detection and security technologies in these areas. We will be seeking funding in these areas for FY2003 and beyond.

Nano-Scale Sensors Program

Biochemical Nano-Scale Sensors Group of the IDHM Program obtained a DOE grant of $1.56M for three years starting from September 2001 for developing nano-scale sensors for environmental monitoring.

Proteomics Sensor Program

For the past almost 60 years the world has lived under the shadow of atomic weapons, threatening a “nuclear nightmare” that could bring the human condition back to the Stone Age. The recent revolution in molecular biology may have inadvertently unleashed a new threat, “living nightmares”: genetically modified viruses and microorganisms that could be used to develop new biological weapons.

Recognizing the growing threat of biological weapons, CSST initiated a new research and development project, the Proteomics Sensor Program.

Proteomics can play an essential role for sensing anthrax and biological agents since it involves simultaneous analysis of all the proteins in a cell or biological extract, identification of the small numbers of proteins that change in an organism in response to a stimulus, and/or cataloging of all proteins in a biological system in terms of their structure, cellular location, and intermolecular interactions.