ASU gets half million grant for research on national security - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

ASU gets half million grant for research on national security

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An Albany State University professor received a half million dollar grant to conduct research critical to national security.

Dr. Seong Seo is developing a portable sensor for detecting chemical nerve agents and organophosphorous compounds.

They may be in the air, your water supply, or in the soil in a field.

This is very specialized research that's being done no where else in the country. It's through a grant with the Department of Defense and if the research is feasible, this could be tested in Washington D.C.

What's happening on the Third Floor of the ACAD Building at Albany State University could eventually have an impact on this nation's security.

"You can have nerve agent, it can be any place, in water, or air, any soil samples," said Dr. Seong Seo, ASU Associate Professor of Chemistry.

Dr. Seong Seo is working on a portable device that's able to detect the smallest amount of chemical nerve agent, we're talking nano-particles.

"Parts per trillion," said Seo.

To understand how this device works, I needed a chemistry lesson. On the thin film, microgels are lined up, and a chemical nerve agent is introduced.

"You get the chemical nerve agent from the company, actually you can get very limited amount, then you can practice how you detect it," said Dr. Seo..

The chemical nerve agent changes the distance between the microgels, and that's what Dr. Seo is developing a device to measure the distance of the peaks, created by the nerve agent and determine what that nerve agent is.

"You're trying to get very low limited concentrations, that's made hard for detection," said Seo.

Dr. Seo's device makes it possible to take the detection to wherever the problem may be.

"Hopefully you can carry it into the field and you can probably use toward detection," said Seo..

Eventually he hopes to go to a special facility run by the Department of Defense to use the device to detect air samples in a specialized area. He's already thinking about the next research project.

"The next proposal will be the detection of explosive materials, like TNT," said Seo.

All in an effort to help improve national security.

Dr. Seo received one of 46 grants for single investigator basic research. That group was narrowed from 184 eligible proposals. The grant and research is spread out over a three year period.

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