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Block MEMS Wins IED Detection Contract

MARLBOROUGH, Mass., Jan. 4, 2013 — Block MEMS LLC has received a multimillion-dollar contract from the US Army to adapt its LaserScan spectrometer to finding improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from a distance.

Block’s LaserScan device uses widely tunable quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) and the proprietary Porthos Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer to detect from a distance recently dug up soil, which on dirt roads is a possible indicator of a buried explosive hazard, according to Executive Chairman Daniel J. Cavicchio Jr.

“Buried IEDs have been a major cause of death to our troops at our theaters of operations,” said CEO Petros Kotidis. “Although techniques exist to find buried objects, these techniques can often be fooled. Our LaserScan will provide the soldier with another important tool to avoid triggering these IEDs.”

The contract — which brings Block’s total product development awards over the past few months from the Department of Defense to more than $7.8 million — will enable the company to miniaturize and ruggedize the spectrometer for use by dismounted soldiers. In the future, it could also be mounted on ground vehicles, including small robots, to aid route clearance operations and to protect military convoys, Kotidis said.

The Joint Improvised Device Defeat Organization contract will be managed by the Army’s Night Vision and Electronics Sensors Directorate of Fort Belvoir, and the Sentel Corp. of Alexandria, both in Virginia.

Block MEMS, affiliated with Block Engineering through common ownership, develops QCLs and FTIR spectrometers.

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