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Astralux, Inc., a pioneer in compound semiconductor research and development, announced that it has been awarded a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase II award from the United States Air Force. With this award, work will continue toward the project's objective to develop a portable UV/X-Ray Biodecontamination system suitable for biodecontamination of a variety of biological agents, which could be used in bioterrorism attacks.
The malicious distribution of Anthrax through the U.S. Postal Service subsequent to the attacks on the World Trade Center in the fall of 2001 demonstrated the vulnerability of the United States to biological threats. These events showed the need for improved decontamination methods for buildings and assets exposed to various biological agents, because the current methods rely on the application of a chlorine- or formaldehyde-based liquid and are toxic, corrosive and harmful. These liquids can damage papers, books and sensitive equipment such as, landing gear, brake assemblies, and aircraft interiors.
The combination of a high-intensity ultraviolet emitter and an X-ray radiation source within a single package would offer a clean, non-toxic, and non-corrosive alternative for the surface and subsurface multi-biological warfare agent decontamination of buildings and equipment. Astralux is developing an electron-beam pumped semiconductor UV source technology, which when combined with an X-ray source, will result in a UV/X-ray biodecontamination unit that does not suffer from the shortcomings mentioned above. This UV/X-ray biodecontamination system will prove useful in a wide range of settings requiring disinfection. These applications include mail disinfection, air and water purification, and medical sterilization.
"The threat of biological attacks on government facilities and acts of bioterrorism against civilian targets is still very real," said Dr. Rande Treece, president and CEO for Astralux. "This UV/X-ray technology represents an innovative approach towards biodecontamination and holds significant potential for a wide range of uses towards neutralizing this deadly threat. We are proud to be helping to defend our country and excited to develop technology in the Homeland Security market."