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Ecosystem of Innovations in Nanotechnologies for Safety, Security, and Sustainability

October 27, 2017 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Ashok Vaseshta


The geopolitical landscape of the 21st century has become rather complex, dynamic, and unpredictable than that faced in the previous century. Notwithstanding unparalleled level of technological advancements, the evolving asymmetric threat from non-aligned terrorist groups continues to grow and evolve. The rapid advances in both science and technology, coupled with universal access to the internet have inspired both state and non-state sponsored actors to a new levels of creativity in the development of novel and non-traditional agents. Implementation of effective countermeasures demands an understanding of transformational emerging sciences, concepts and theories, and their potential applications. Numerous technological advances arise from the potential of nanoscale materials to exhibit unique properties that are attributable to their small size. Furthermore, advances in material synthesis, device fabrication and characterization have provided the means to study, understand, control, or even manipulate the transitional characteristics between isolated atoms and molecules, and bulk materials. Consequently, various “designer” materials capable of producing devices and systems with remarkable, tunable, and desired properties have recently been fabricated. Such advances coupled with information technology, cognitive sciences, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and genetics offer an ecosystem of innovations and potential pathways to counter threat vectors in ways never imagined possible earlier, such as deployment of systems with enhanced capabilities, information gathering, and thwarting threat at point-of-origin (PO2). This presentation provides many examples of such innovations using nanomaterials, such as in sensors/detectors, employing materials, phenomena, and effects including multilayer semiconductor structures, specially formulated interfaces, and exploiting different regions of electro-magnetic spectrum provide various functionalities. Mechanisms such as refractive and nonlinear effects, absorption of electromagnetic radiation, fluorescence, avalanche phenomena for the detection of small fluxes of optical radiation, remote detection of explosives by neutron radiation, etc., provide additional sensing capabilities, in conjunction with algorithms for complex processing of information, providing end-to-end strategic assessments and modeling of mixed and complex hazardous environments to delineated signal from background interactions. Recent radiation sensors based on polymeric materials have gained significant technological attention. Furthermore, it is widely known that drinking water distribution systems are vulnerable to intentional and/or inadvertent contamination. Such contamination can be accomplished with classic and non-traditional chemical agents, toxic industrial chemicals (TICs), and/or toxic industrial materials (TIMs). Novel nanomaterials based sensors produce an e-tongue configuration to identify several contaminants in aqueous environments. The advancement of molecular biology and bio-mimetic has several applications in environmental microbiology due to its ability to rapidly detect waterborne microbial pathogens. The overall scope encompasses abilities to sense, detect chemical-biological-radiological, nuclear, high yield explosive, and water borne contaminants – all from safety and security standpoint.


October 27, 2017
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


The Forum, Richard J. Ernst Community Cultural Center (CE Building)