Rinaldi and McGruer Receive DARPA MTO Award
ECE Assistant Professor Matteo Rinaldi and Professor Nicol McGruer have received a $1,103,519 award from DARPA MTO to develop a “Plasmonic Microelectromechanical Infrared Digitizer (PLASMID)” that combines sensing, signal processing and comparator functionalities into a single microsystem capable of producing a quantized output bit in the presence of a specific infrared spectral signature of interest. The PLASMID is able to sense and digitize the unique IR spectral signatures associated to the exhaust plumes of engines using gasoline or diesel as fuels and therefore it will enable detection of vehicles such as trucks, cars or even aircraft while consuming no more than 10 nW and maintaining a low false alarm rate (£1/hour).
This project is part of the DARPA Near Zero Power RF and Sensor Operations (N-ZERO) program which seeks to transform the energy efficiency of unattended sensors through elimination or substantial reduction of the stand-by power consumed by the sensors while they await a signature of interest. The N-ZERO program intends to fundamentally break the paradigm of using active power to sense infrequent, high consequence events. Instead, N-ZERO intends to exploit the energy in the signal signature itself to detect and discriminate the events of interest while rejecting noise and interference. This would enable deployments of sensors that can remain “off” (i.e., not consuming any battery power) yet alert for detecting signatures of interest, resulting in a nearly unlimited duration of operation.