Spire nets U.S. Army imaging contract

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Spire Corporation, a photovoltaic product maker, has landed nearly a $100,000 contract from U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command, to support development of a solid-state device that company officials say could be the future of medical imaging and security. The contract was awarded through the U.S. Army's Small Business Technology Transfer program.

The goal of the partnership is to more easily utilize terahertz light to provide medical images that are better and safer than x-rays, conduct non-invasive airport screening, and improve the ability to spot weapons concealed in clothing, according to the Bedford, Mass.-based company.

Under the terms of the contract, Spire will partner with the University of Virginia to analyze semiconductor materials and identify experiments aimed at creating a simpler device capable of providing more than 10 milliwatts of continuous terahertz (also known as sub-millimeter wave) light at room temperature for defense, biomedical and scientific applications, according to Spire.

 “This program is of great interest and importance to Spire because such miniature terahertz sources are critically needed for defense, medical and industrial applications. They can be readily manufactured in our Bandwidth Semiconductor foundry, and their applications in biotechnology are in line with our biomedical division’s interest in offering this new modality for non-invasive cancer detection and other medical imaging concepts,” said Roger Little, chairman and CEO of Spire.

A subsequent phase of this program will produce a prototype terahertz oscillator. Should the team succeed, the light would be manufactured in Spire's bandwidth semiconductor foundry in Hudson, N.H, said company officials.