On August 7, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) released the Broad Agency Announcement for its Ithildin program (IARPA-BAA-17-04). Proposals are due for the initial round of selections no later than 5:00 p.m. ET on October 6.
This publication constitutes a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) and sets forth research of interest in the area of novel sorbent materials for chemical sampling and storage. The focus of the program will be to provide enhanced sorbent capabilities at the molecular, nanoscale and mesoscale level, independent of the sampler design. Awards based on responses to this BAA are considered to be the result of full and open competition.
Sorptive materials are widely used in industrial processes, scientific research, and in Defense and Intelligence Community applications. The fundamental physical or chemical interaction of a sorbate with a sorbent underlies technical applications ranging from catalytic production of industrial chemicals to oil spill containment to production monitoring.
An important category of use for sorptive materials is chemical sampling and filtering. In many cases, the same sorbents can be used for sampling of trace gases from the atmosphere, preventing toxic materials from leaving production facilities, and protecting individuals from exposure in the case of accidental or intentional chemical release, with functional use dictated by the sorbent packaging and quantity.
Sorbent materials, whether they are adsorbent or absorbent based, can be categorized by two groupings – broad spectrum sorbents, and selective sorbents. Broad spectrum sorbents generally sorb all impinging compounds within a certain molecular weight or polarity range. Sorption is typically reversible, with thermal desorption the most common method of sorbate release/sorbent cleaning. Broad spectrum sorbents most commonly emphasize high surface area carbonaceous structures. Representative examples of broad-spectrum sorbents include high surface area materials such as activated charcoal, silica gel, porous organic polymers, and non-functionalized graphene and other carbon nanostructures. Selective sorbents preferentially bind a certain chemical class of targets, with poor binding of common background gases and contaminants. Selective sorbent binding can be reversible (physisorption) or irreversible (chemisorption), and emphasize more specific chemical interactions between the target and sorbent matrix. Representative examples of selective sorbents include functionalized polymers, reactive chemistry based materials, molecularly imprinted materials, and d-orbital metal containing materials.
To date, sorbent material research has concentrated on developing materials with either broadspectrum characteristics tailored to the pool of chemicals to be sampled or filtered, or selective binding of a certain class of chemicals for filtering or detection. Sorbents trap the chemicals they are designed to trap when they are exposed to these chemicals, until the sorbent capacity is exhausted. Functionality beyond this binary “trap to capacity” capability is left for the design of the sampler, scrubber, or filter system that utilizes the sorbent material.
Full information is available here.