70.7 F
Washington D.C.
Thursday, June 8, 2023

Developing Agile, Reliable Sensing Systems with Microbes

DARPA seeks to establish the range of chemical and physical signals that microbial devices can detect, environmental conditions they can tolerate, and types of output signals that can be generated.

Current environmental monitoring approaches can rely on both distributed sensor networks – on the ground or in the water – and remote sensing platforms, like satellites, to collect information important for the protection of people and property. The Department of Defense (DOD) is interested in developing new, complementary sensors to monitor the environment with high spatial resolution, and reduced power and logistical burden, to further enhance monitoring capabilities and significantly reduce potential risk to personnel. Recent research has demonstrated that microbes, such as bacteria, fungi, or microalgae, offer promise for detecting different types of input signals, including both chemical (e.g., toxic or radioactive materials, heavy metal pollutants) and physical phenomena (e.g., light, electric current, magnetic fields). Microbes can also generate both chemical and physical output signals in response to sensing these inputs. The ability to detect and convert signals, be self-powering, and environmental resilience are microbial features that may complement other sensing approaches.

DARPA’s new Tellus program will explore the development of an interactive, platform methodology for the rapid design of microbe-based sense-and-respond devices for monitoring DOD-relevant environments. Specifically, DARPA seeks to establish the range of chemical and physical signals that microbial devices can detect, environmental conditions they can tolerate, and types of output signals that can be generated. To this end, Tellus will focus on developing the methodology to enable the rapid design of agile, robust, reliable, and durable microbial sensors for environmental monitoring.

The microbial devices developed during the 2.5-year program must be able to translate detected signals into a variety of physical or chemical output signals, including light, non-toxic organic compounds, or electric current, which can then be measurable by conventional receiver systems (e.g., optoelectronic, photonic, imaging, electrode). In addition to method development, Tellus is focused on assessing sensor functionality across many different environments and conditions. As remote environmental monitoring for chemicals, pollutants, or changing conditions is an area of national security interest, microbial sensing systems that are capable of detecting multiple types input targets, relaying a variety of output signals at a distance, and operating unattended for long durations are desired.

“As part of the program, DARPA will test how quickly new, functional devices can be designed, built, and tested using specific parameters,” stated Dr. Linda Chrisey, Tellus program manager. “Ultimately, we envision a dashboard or interface where a user would dial in features of their environment, the inputs they want to detect, and the output signals that are useful to them, and the system would design a safe, effective microbial device to meet those needs.”

A Proposers Day is scheduled for May 2, 2023; details can be found in the Special Notice: DARPA-SN-23-41 at https://sam.gov/opp/4e66a1649fb74dcaa6bac7ea2d3beae6/view.

A broad agency announcement solicitation with all program details and instructions for submitting proposals is available on SAM.gov at this link: https://sam.gov/opp/73a0c18d357c47b1af9724a675f22c1f/view.

Read more at DARPA

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

Related Articles

Latest Articles