IR detection systems developer Block MEMS LLC said it has been awarded a $9.8 million contract from the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, part of the U.S. government. Under the contract, the company will develop a system that can detect trace quantities of chemicals at standoff distances of at least 100 ft. The award is part of IARPA’s Standoff Illuminator for Measuring Absorbance and Reflectance Infrared Light Signatures (SILMARILS) program, and is managed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Block will develop a new class of widely tunable, high-pulse energy quantum cascade lasers (QCL) and also next-generation detection algorithms to detect and identify hundreds of chemicals on a wide range of surfaces. Dr. Anish Goyal, vice president of technology and principal investigator of the contract at Block MEMS, cited standoff detection of trace chemicals, such as explosive residues, chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial materials as a critical unmet need in U.S. intelligence and government defense communities. Block MEMS is an engineering and development company focusing on the R&D of QCLs and Fourier transform IR spectrometers.