The agency is seeking experts in optical materials processing and device fabrication, chip-based OFC generation, high-resolution metrology and molecular spectroscopy, algorithm development and data processing, and domain expertise in trace-level chemical and biological threat detection.
Current spectroscopes for detecting trace amounts of biological and chemical agents are not highly sensitive and often suffer from "frequency clutter" due to atmospheric components. The SCOUT program plans to overcome these issues by working with optical frequency comb technology.
“In laboratory settings, we’ve seen proof of principle that it’s possible to identify and quantify multiple substances at a distance of 2 kilometers or more, but no portable sensors exist today that can detect and distinguish among multiple chemical or biological agents in gas or liquid form at even half that distance,” DARPA Program Manager Prem Kumar said. “The challenge DARPA is addressing is to develop portable, microchip-size optical frequency combs that display a high degree of sensitivity and specificity across the electromagnetic spectrum, even in a cluttered frequency environment.”