The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has released new topics for potential funding via the Department of Defense FY2016 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.
Relevant chemical and biological defense topics include:
Rapid Assembly and Transfer Techniques for Large DNA Constructs
A critical challenge to advancing towards whole genome engineering is the ability to assemble and transfer large DNA constructs, which has not kept pace with rapid improvements in DNA synthesis technology. The goal of this topic area is to develop a novel platform for DNA assembly, transfer, and transfection that uses synthetic DNA products to assemble DNA constructs at least 50 kbp or at least 100 kbp in length for prokaryotes and eukaryotes, respectively, and transfer these into cells with a transfection efficiency of at least 1%.
While necessary enrichment steps are not prohibited, increasing the apparent DNA transfer efficiency by flow cytometry sorting or extensive screening methods will be considered nonresponsive.
Miniaturized Wireless Microscope and Tissue Diagnostics
Diagnosis of damaged tissue traditionally involves a biopsy or complex lapropscopic techniques, requiring a significant amount of training, expert knowledge and equipment to operate. Under battlefield conditions, combat medics do not have the time, hand-held equipment or antiseptic environment required to effectively utilize these standard techniques.
Building on advances in hyperspectral imaging techniques and modern photonic design and integrated optics, DARPA seeks to develop an injectable system no greater than one cubic-millimeter in size to identify and characterize tissue adjacent to the device at cellular resolution; and to establish approaches to inject and remotely position this medical device near internal trauma or tumors.
Rugged, Chip Scale, Optical Frequency Combs for Real-World Applications
The mid-wave infrared, long-wave infrared, and longer spectral regions are scientifically and technologically important for numerous applications including communications, environmental and industrial monitoring, thermal imaging, and chemical sensing for defense and homeland security. This topic area aims to design, construct, test for reliability and deliver a ruggedized semiconductor laser-based optical frequency comb source.
The same physical motivations underlying defense and security application of spectroscopic detection in these target spectral regions are true for numerous commercial applications of the same technology including environmental monitoring, toxic industrial chemical detection, and first responder safety and assessment.
These DARPA topics are unclassified; however, the subject matter may be considered to be a “critical technology” and therefore subject to ITAR/EAR restrictions.
DARPA will begin accepting proposals on January 11, 2016. Further details are available via Solicitation Number: DOD-SBIR-16-1(541712) and at the DoD SBIR/STTR Small Business Portal. The proposal response deadline is February 17, 2016.