PSI Annual Technical Achievement Awards

Jan 23, 2018

In this newsletter we present our 2017 Technical Achievement Awards to formally recognize the most significant accomplishments by our staff this past year. With hundreds of ongoing projects, the selection process is always difficult, and these awards recognize only a small fraction of the many significant accomplishments by our talented staff. B. David Green, President and CEO, recently presented the 2017 PSI Annual Technical Achievement Awards to three groups of researchers for notable accomplishments, which include applying pulsed lasers for local environment assessment, a frequency agile laser for trace species detection, and advanced algorithms for radiation threat detection in complex environments.

Miniaturized LIDAR System

Joseph Goodwin, Principal Scientist; David Sonnenfroh, Area Manager Atmospheric Sciences; and Robert Minelli, Principal Research Scientist, received Technical Achievement Awards for their successful demonstration of a miniaturized LIDAR system at the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Strip.

Under a Navy sponsored Phase II SBIR, the team designed, fabricated, and characterized a miniaturized LIDAR system to measure the optical extinction coefficient of the atmosphere. These data will be needed for situational awareness on future Navy ships equipped with high energy laser weapons as a decision aid.

During the design phase, the team's disciplined engineering development met system requirements while maximizing environmental stability and performance. Noteworthy was the coupled optical-thermo-elastic modeling to verify that the mechanical design would maintain
the required challenging alignment in the face of environmental stresses. The team developed creative alignment procedures that enabled subassembly alignment during integration.

The Navy enabled PSI to participate with other industrial and Government LIDAR groups in this intercomparison event. Under PSI IRAD funding, the team efficiently prepared and shipped the system, had the system operational in less than an hour after unpacking, and successfully obtained over 35 hours of data during a 10 day period. The data provided unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution from the boundary layer to over 11 km. Rain, turbulence and high-lying cirrus clouds were readily observed. The data obtained by the team was truly impressive and compared very favorably to other systems.

As a result of this excellent performance, PSI has been funded to support additional field tests that will increase the chance of achieving our ultimate goal - development of a ship-borne system.

We also acknowledge and appreciate the role David Oakes, Principal Research Scientist; Jeffrey Perkins, Principal Scientist; and W. Terry Rawlins, Senior Principal Research Scientist/Engineer, played in making this mission a success.

Radiation Awareness Interdiction Network (RAIN)

John Wright, Principal Scientist; Daisei Konno, Principal Analyst; Daniel Brown, Senior Research Scientist; Thomas Schmit, Senior Research Scientist; Phillip Mulhall, Manager, Information Systems; and Bogdan Cosofret, Vice President Aerospace Systems, were presented with Technical Achievement Awards for their contribution to the DNDO RAIN program.

The DNDO RAIN program was ground-breaking in its implementation of PSI's PCS algorithm - enabling integration in a large scale hardware system. Under this program, the team:
• First developed the PCS-Enhanced Radiation Monitor (PERM) hardware to provide stable gamma spectra to the algorithm as well as network communications capability.
• Developed and implemented algorithm variants that enabled detection of sources moving past the detectors at highway speeds and was able to attribute the source to a specific lane on a highway.
• Through integration with Raytheon's open road tolling system, was able to recognize and identify the specific vehicle carrying the source.

PSI met or exceeded all threshold and many of the objective requirements of the program - providing excellent performance as verified in government-conducted testing. PSI's ongoing success in RAIN has led to the award of several new programs implementing PCS including: The DARPA SIGMA program to network mobile and fixed site sensors; the IDtector Radiation Portal Monitor and the Joint Development, Marketing, and Production Agreement with FLIR; and the DNDO WIND program.

A very significant aspect is the continued refinement, integration and support of PSI's algorithm capability in DARPA's SIGMA network. SIGMA deploys sensitive detectors in a collaborative, networked approach. It has already demonstrated the potential to revolutionize detection and deterrent capabilities for countering nuclear terrorism. The SIGMA capability intelligently and systematically merge data across time and space to improve threat detection, identification and localization in complex urban environments.

The team was instrumental in efficiently integrating PSI technology with the SIGMA network architecture, adding modifications to track the probable distribution of threat parameters and provide a rigorous temporal and multi-detector fusion framework. As a result of this success, PSI's technologies are now widely adopted by the SIGMA network.

Remote Methane Leak Detection

Rick Wainner, Principal Research Scientist; Nicholas Aubut, Senior Research Engineer; Matt Laderer, Project Engineer; and Mickey Frish, Area Manager, Industrial Sensors, were presented with Technical Achievement Awards in recognition for the development of novel methods of scanning, imaging and quantifying small methane emissions via aerial, mobile and handheld scanning backscatter laser sensing, and their successful demonstration in extensive competitive field tests. These novel tools form the basis for the next generation of Remote Methane Leak Detection (RMLD) Products.

Project team members adapted RMLD to portable platforms that map and measure methane emission rates. They engineered a new-generation small RMLD that flies on PSI's quadrotor platform, developed software permitting pre-programmed flight patterns to gather quantitative methane emission data over areas of interest, and created algorithms for processing the acquired data to deduce emission rates. The team adapted the mapping concept and algorithms to a bench-top laser scanning system, built from components suitable for packaging in a low-cost handheld unit, that creates quantified images of small localized methane leak plumes and deduces emission rate.

The team completed extensive field testing with the ARPAe customer, successfully detecting and quantifying leak sources and rates. These advances pave the way for future large-scale technology transition.

This ongoing work is supported by multiple organizations and projects with shared goals. Sponsors include the ARPAe MONITOR program, the DoE Office of Fossil Energy, the DoT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration, Heath Consultants Inc., PSI, and NYSEARCH. Key collaborators are Princeton University, University of Houston, Cascodium Inc., Helix Design Corp., and Embedge Corp. We also acknowledge and appreciate the roles Joy Stafford, Senior Project Specialist and Oscar Herrera, Principal Scientist, played in making these activities a success.

Contract News

PSI Recently received the following research contracts:

"Low-Temperature Plasma Decontamination of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Fill/Finish Operations" from the National Institutes of Health

"High Yield, Economical, and Environmentally Benign Production of Rare Earth Elements from Coal Ash" from the Department of Energy

For more PSI contract news, visit

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