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DARPA Grants $6.3 Million to GE to Create Bio-Inspired Sensors

In association with Air Force Research Laboratory, University of Exeter, and State University of Albany, researchers of GE Global Research, which is the technology development wing of GE, has secured a $6.3 million endowment from DARPA i.e. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, for a tenure of four years, to design a novel sensor, that is both bio-inspired and nanostructured, to enable speedier and discerning choices, among the hazardous explosives, chemical threats and combat instruments.

The researchers at GE had realized that heightened chemical sensing attributes, were displayed by the butterflies in the nanostructures of their wing scales, three years before. Contemplating this, the scientists have been striving to evolve a vibrant sensing platform that duplicates this property, and DARPA knowing the significance of this research, with respect to security advancements, has begun promoting it.

GE Global Research’s Principal investigator and scientist, Radislav Potyrailo, stated that GE’s sensing platform would spectacularly enhance speed, precision and sensitivity, for instantaneous recognition of risky and treacherous chemical threats, and also help in deciding the steps needed to be taken after detection, to handle such kind of terror instruments.

Potyrailo further disclosed that theses sensors are very economical, and come in diminutive sizes permitting mass production, and thus can be easily installed anywhere and everywhere. GE sensors’ distinctive sensitive properties along with size and production returns, makes it easy to use in healthcare and industrial applications such as food and beverage safety testing, breath analysis for detecting diseases, monitoring emission rates at power installations, monitoring water purity levels at home, industrial and environmental sectors and injury remedial assessments. According to him, currently many more sensors are being utilized to gather statistics on gas concentrations, and to furnish significant data regarding air conditions spanning vast dispersed areas and local regions. The data could be anything from chemical or health threat alerts to assessing a power plant’s air quality.

Viktoria Greanya, Program Manager, DARPA revealed that, they had been highly motivated, by nature’s real optical formations, that take place, because of complicated morphology, as seen in the vivid colored wings of butterflies or cuticula of beetles or multicolored feathers of peacock and so on.  The chief objectives of DARPA’s program is to exploit the photonic instruments found in nature and modify them to create manageable photonic gadgets at infrared and visible wavelengths.

The DARPA project will comprise of GE’s team of material scientists, analytical and polymer chemists, optical and nanofabrication engineers, along with eminent scientists such as University of Exeter’s Dr. Peter Vukusic, an authority on the physics of structural color; Dr. Helen Ghiradella, a specialist in the field of biology of structural color in State University at Albany; Dr. John Hartley, an expert in advanced lithographic nanofabrication also from Albany’s State University and Air Force Research Laboratory’s Dr. Rajesh Naik, who is proficient in surface functionalization and bio-inspired functional materials.


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