Company Gets DHS Funding to Develop Explosives, Drugs Detection Tech

September 21, 2021 — The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program awarded $999,406 to South Dakota-based small business Synthetik Applied Technologies, LLC to develop a targeted surface interrogation technology that quickly detects trace residues of explosives and illicit drugs on carry-on baggage, laptops and other items.

“The capabilities for screening, detection, and identification of explosives and illicit drugs are essential in maintaining safety at airports, ports of entry, and other screening venues,” said Kathryn Coulter Mitchell, DHS Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology. “Enhancing detection and screening technologies with a targeted surface interrogation capability will provide an efficient and more accurate way to find trace particles of interest in critical screening environments.”

After a successful Phase I feasibility demonstration in the Enhanced Explosives and Illicit Drugs Detection by Targeted Interrogation of Surfaces topic area, the DHS SBIR Program, administered by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), selected Synthetik Applied Technologies, LLC to continue their research and development efforts on development of their DeepSpektra high-resolution hyperspectral and deep-learning-based non-contact detection technology that will provide enhanced, targeted sampling for explosives and illegal drugs trace detection.

“With Synthetik as a small business partner, we hope to develop a tool that can revolutionize explosives and illicit drugs trace sampling procedures,” said Thoi Nguyen, DHS SBIR Topic Manager. “Given the high level of interest in this type of technology, we hope to provide our DHS Component partners and intended end users with a workable prototype technology that can be tested in their laboratories.”

At the completion of the 24-month Phase II contract, SBIR awardees will have developed a prototype to demonstrate the advancement of technology, spearheading the potential for Phase III funding.

Under Phase III, SBIR performers will seek to secure funding from private sector and/or non-SBIR government sources, with the eventual goal to commercialize and bring to market the technologies from Phases I and II.

“The DHS SBIR Program is a bridge for government to partner with innovative small businesses and meet pressing homeland security needs,” said DHS SBIR Program Director Dusty Lang. “This Phase II award is yet another example of how DHS is collaborating with small businesses to advance our nation’s security posture.”

For more information on the DHS SBIR Program, visit: or contact This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Visit the DHS SBIR Success Stories page to see past projects and visit our Deconstructing SBIR webinar series page for more on the program.

For more information on S&T’s innovation programs and tools, visit:

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