Abstract

The effectiveness of terrorist attack via chemical and biological weapons (CBW) has been demonstrated. In fact, effective doses of toxic industrial compounds (TIC’s), toxic industrial materials (TIM’s) and CBWs are achievable with delivery to a population via both air and drinking water pathways; this vulnerability is acute. Conventional scientific wisdom holds that no commercially available or cost-effective real-time technology will exist in the near-term to detect-treat-mitigate such attacks in civilian applications.

Substantial work is being funded at both the private and federal level to develop systems capable of alerting/warning those nearby, and remotely, in the case of such an attack in either media. The ideal sensor designed for the application of early warning/detection of TIC’s/TIM’s and CBW’s would be characterized as having technology that will permit a sensor that 1) is the size of a smoke alarm, 2) has low operational and maintenance costs, and 3) has a low false alarm rate (FAR). This report will summarize recent, continuing work focused on the development of sensors for detection of TIC’s/TIM’s and CBW’s. The role of photonics in these sensors will be discussed along with the potential future application of photonics in non-traditional applications.

The authors also suggest how this new technology can be employed as both attack detection sensors, and environmental quality sensors – bringing both protection and value to the end-user application.

© 2004 Optical Society of America

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