Awards presented for development of commercial nuclear detection material

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In June, Inrad Optics received two awards for its part in a collaborative project to develop advanced crystalline materials that have an improved capability to detect neutron radiation. The research and developmental work was carried out under a contract for the United States’ Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), and will play a role in keeping people safe from nuclear threats.

Neutrons have a tell-tale signature that corresponds to certain nuclear materials of interest for homeland security applications. The detection of neutrons also has applications in physics research and at nuclear facilities. 

Inrad Optics’ research started in 2012, when the company received approximately $1,000,000 in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II funding from DNDO to develop a commercial supply of the crystalline material stilbene, which produces a measurable optical signal in the presence of neutron radiation.

The Phase II contract is part of a collaborative effort with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where research on stilbene crystal growth was conducted. Inrad Optics developed a commercially-viable process for stilbene production, and began shipping stilbene crystals to customers at the end of 2013.

The first award was accepted on 10 June by senior scientist for Inrad Optics, Dr Candace Lynch at a ceremony held during the 2014 Symposium on Radiation Measurements and Applications (SORMA) in Michigan.

The company also received the Tibbetts Award from the US Small Business Association (SBA) for playing a critical role in research and development for the government and for their success in driving innovation and creating new jobs.

The Tibbetts award celebrates small businesses and individuals, and winners are chosen based on the economic impact of a technological innovation, and on whether they have met federal research and development needs, encouraged diverse participation in technological innovation, and increased the commercialisation of federal research.

The award was presented at a ceremony at the Whitehouse, and was accepted by Dr Lynch and Inrad Optics CEO Amy Eskilson.

‘We are honoured to receive these awards and to contribute to technologies which will help keep Americans safe from nuclear threats,’ Eskilson said. ‘The successful transition of stilbene to commercial production is a testament to the talented team of scientists, engineers, and technicians at our Northvale, New Jersey facility.’

Maria Contreas-Sweet, SBA administrator, also commented: ‘It is the innovative entrepreneurs and high growth small businesses like our award recipients and Hall of Fame inductees who help power our economy and move it forward  by creating new jobs and making our industries globally competitive.’