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7 August 1998

Vol. II, No. 3

Bulletin Board


Photonics Center invention honored by U.S. Army

A portable detector developed at the Photonics Center has been selected by the U.S. Army as one of the top inventions of 1997 that are of benefit to soldiers. The device, which can detect minute amounts of contaminants in drinking water, is one of 19 technological achievements chosen under the Army's Advanced Concepts and Technology II (ACTII) Program.

Developed jointly with Marlborough-based Boston Advanced Technologies, the detector can identify the presence of contaminants, including possible chemical warfare agents, at the very low concentration levels required to ensure that water is safe to drink. It also requires minimum training and produces accurate results in less than one minute, compared to the possible 40 minutes required by current technology. The detector uses Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering, a technology developed by the Photonics Center to detect red dye in diesel fuel and now used by the Internal Revenue Service to check for the illegal use of off-road diesel fuel.

ACTII is designed to allow the Army's Battle Labs to rapidly access new technologies that meet specific Army needs. The program is executed by the Army Research Office in Washington, along with the other materiel developing commands, which together forge partnerships with industry and academia.