May 24, 2007

Scanner provides new way to probe for hazardous materials

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – 2K Corp., a Purdue Research Park-based company, has successfully tested a new ultra-fast elemental-analysis machine that can detect chemical warfare agents and other hazardous materials in sealed containers without opening the items.

The scanner, called a Small Object Scanner or SOS, passed a blind test at the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. Both dangerous and benign agents were presented to the system in sealed containers. The scanner can be used for national defense, homeland security, airport security, courthouses, embassies and other government and public facilities.

"The SOS is the only detection system to have passed the blind test at the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center. It successfully classifies chemical warfare agents and hazardous materials in sealed containers," said David Koltick, co-founder and scientific associate of 2K Corp. "It can classify materials as threatening or harmless in a matter of seconds."

The system performs elemental analysis to classify dangerous agents by using gamma ray spectroscopy induced by shooting non-charge neutrons into the item. Gamma ray spectroscopy is used to classify materials sealed and shielded in metal and non-metal containers.

"Whether it is soda pop or dangerous chemicals, everything has a 'signature' of how it is comprised, and this scanner takes the object's signature and classifies it," said Emily Mace, chief scientist at 2K Corp. "The neutrons scanning an object can move through sealed containers such as a wine bottle and detect dangerous or hazardous materials contained within it."

The Small Object Scanner was developed with Purdue's Applied Physics Laboratory, a research lab that uses fundamental physics to solve real-world problems. 2K Corp. owns exclusive licensing rights for the scanner. Research is continuing at the Applied Physics Laboratory to extend the function of the scanner to include detection of explosives.

"The system is easy to use and safe to operate," Mace said. "The classification of hazardous materials is made automatically without the need for operator interpretation."

The 2K Corp. was co-founded in 2002 by Yeong Kim and Koltick. They both are Purdue physics professors and serve as scientific associates for 2K Corp.

The company was awarded a $400,000 grant from Indiana's 21 Century Research and Technology Fund in 2006. 2K Corp. serves as a link between the latest research and research laboratories at Purdue and assists in product development for industrial processes or the manufacturing of highly technical products.

The Purdue Research Park is home to more than 140 companies. About 90 of these firms are technology-related, creating the greatest cluster of these types of ventures in Indiana. The park is part of the Purdue Research Foundation, a private, nonprofit foundation created to assist Purdue University. The 591-acre research park, just north of campus, has the largest university-affiliated, business incubation complex in the country. The Purdue Technology Centers are composed of four complementary facilities totaling 195,000 square feet.

Purdue Research Foundation marketing and communication contact:
Cynthia Sequin, (765) 494-4192 (office), (765) 413-6031 (mobile), casequin@prf.org.

* To the Purdue Research Park web site