Block MEMS nets funds to develop gas sensor

Oct. 5, 2006 — Block MEMS LLC of Marlborough, Mass., announced it was recently awarded a $4.5 million contract by the U. S. Army Research Office.

The contract, which is being managed by the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Command (ECBC) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, provides funds to develop a miniaturized chemical detector using MEMS technology.

This detector, dubbed “ChemPen,” uses sophisticated Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) technology that requires precisely positioned moving mirrors and extreme tolerances. The company says this can be accomplished in a MEMS structure by using the SUMMiT-V MEMS fabrication technology. SUMMiT-V was developed by Sandia National Laboratories, which is partnering with Block on the project.

The contract is a continuation of work that was begun in 2004 under a previous $1.9 million contract. Working with Fairchild Semiconductor, a SUMMiT-V licensed foundry in South Portland, Maine, Block has fabricated some of the important components that will go into the ChemPen.

Block is also partnering with universities — Cornell and Brigham Young — as well as a number of government labs in addition to Sandia.

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