DARPA asks industry to develop pocket-sized radiation detectors to foil nuclear terrorism

ARLINGTON, Va., 17 Dec. 2013. U.S. government researchers are asking industry to design a pocket-sized radiation detector to help foil terrorists attempting to detonate concealed dirty bombs or full-blown nuclear weapons in or around U.S. cities and crucial government and industrial infrastructure.

Scientists at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., have issued a broad agency announcement (DARPA-BAA-14-11) for the SIGMA program, which seeks ways of building a small and affordable radiation detector to identify hidden threats ranging from special nuclear materials to radiological sources.

Direct measurement of gamma and neutron emission remains one of the few definitive to detect and identify special nuclear materials and radiological sources, DARPA officials say.

Needed are belt-worn, pocket-size, wearable, and large-area radiation detectors that represent an order of magnitude less expensive with substantially increased detection capability than what is available today, researchers say.

Revolutionary ideas at low technological readiness levels (TRLs) are encouraged, but proposers must lay out a path for rapid evaluation and development, along with a potential path for scale-up production, DARPA officials say.

The program will be in two phases. First it will develop core technical component capabilities, define design parameters, build prototypes, and establish base manufacturing capabilities. Second, the DARPA SIGMA program will refine manufacturability and deliver devices at target prices for large-scale testing of as many as 10,000 units.

Several phase-one contracts are expected, and DARPA officials expect companies to work with other teams on system-level experiments and testing. DARPA eventually will ask performers to submit their prototype detectors for final testing.

Phase 1 will be for two or three years, depending on the complexity of proposals, with a goal of buying detectors after two years for the first large-scale experiments. DARPA researchers understand that the more revolutionary designs will take longer to develop.

Full proposals are due online at https://dsobaa.darpa.mil no later than 30 Jan. 2014. Email questions or concerns to DARPA's Vincent Tang at DARPA-BAA-14-11@darpa.mil.

More information is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/ODA/DARPA/CMO/DARPA-BAA-14-11/listing.html.

Easily post a comment below using your Linkedin, Twitter, Google or Facebook account.

The Innovation That Matters™ Quiz

Innovation is one of the key drivers in the Defense industry. View this short video on the role of innovation. Then, simply answer 4 multiple-choice questions correctly to be entered into a drawing to win an Eddie Bauer fleece jacket!

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR THREE MOST RECENT WINNERS. Eric from L3, Alan from ATK, and Terry from the University of California

Featured Slideshow

Evolution of the American soldier

The American soldier has come a long way since the beginning of the Republic 237 years ago. While uniforms for early soldiers were based on cost and utility, soldiers' clothing eventually considered ballistic protection, increasing storage space, protection from poison gas and other contaminants.

Most Popular Articles


On Demand Webcasts

Engineering the VPX high-speed data path for physical and signal integrity

Join Arrow Electronics and TE Connectivity, for an overview webinar of the standards, technologies and trends involving VITA and TE.

Design Strategy Considerations for DO-178C Certified Multi-core Systems

Join Wind River to learn how system architecture and design choices can minimize your DO-178C certification challenges.

Sponsored by:

Flying, Sailing or Driving - The Rugged, Embedded Intel-based Server that goes where you need it!Flying Sailing or Driving

Leveraging the power of server-class processors is no longer relegated to the confines of data centers. Through several innovations, Mercury Systems has ruggedized Intel’s server-class chips for deployment. ...
Sponsored by:

social activity

All Access Sponsors

View the 2014 Buyer's Guide Now!

Mil & Aero Magazine

April 2014
Volume 25, Issue 4

Download Our Apps




Follow Us On...


Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles