301D Reber Building
University Park, PA 16802
Through our involvement in Homeland Security research for the past 18 years we have developed many facilities and techniques for performing trace chemical detection research. The facilities listed here are representative of the work we have performed previously on the development of trace detection systems. Our current research projects involve the construction of novel trace detection systems for personnel and cargo screening, which we develop and test in our laboratory.
An early iteration of the
commercial portal is tested in
The detection of trace chemical signals concealed on a person involves not only the detection process itself but also the processes of sample removal from a person and the transport of that sample to the detector. For non-contact aerodynamic sampling, as is typically desired, the sample removal and transport processes are highly dependent on the fluid dynamics of air flows around a person and through a portal geometry.
Our previous Homeland Security work developed a trace detection portal based on the natural airflow around a person, with a successful patent (US Patent 6073499) and initial licensing of the patent to GE Security, which resulted in a commercially fielded person screening portal. The initial designs of the portal were built, tested and improved in our laboratory using techniques including laser-flow visualization and schlieren flow visualization.
Current research is developing new approaches to portals for screening persons more rapidly and thoroughly. The new designs that are developed are constructed and tested at a breadboard level in our facility. Our facility is equipped for performing flow visualization of the sample removal and transport processes, along with testing for explosive contamination using a range of vapor and particle procedures.
An experimental setup for sampling a ULD-3 air
cargo container for trace chemical contamination
using a high-flow rate impactor device developed in
Developing techniques for screening sealed cargo containers for trace chemical contamination is another research area in our laboratory. To experimentally test and qualify devices we design, we have built a facility for performing cargo screening experiments. In this facility we have a full-scale ULD-3 air cargo container (which was used and donated to us), a scale model sea-cargo container and a scale model 53' truck-trailer. The scale model containers were built using fluid-dynamic scaling procedures so that the experimental measurements are directly scalable to full-scale predictions and results. All of these cargo facilities are used to measure internal air flow characteristics and trace detection performance of fluid-dynamic devices developed within the laboratory.
A student uses a bench-top IMS
device to measure the mass of
chemical collected on a sampling tab.
Quantifying the amount of chemicals present and detected is an important step in trace chemical detection experiments. For measuring trace chemical quantities we have multiple commercial and bench-top ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) devices. These devices can be used to measure the amount and type of chemicals collected and are used with our other Homeland Security facilities to qualify device performance. These devices can be connected to and used with any detection device developed in the laboratory.