Application of superconducting technologies as chemical/biological agent "electronic eyes"

Steven M. Savoy, Sara J. Eames, David C. Jurbergs, Jianai Zhao, John T. McDevitt, Annette L. Sobel

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


High temperature superconductors provide enhanced sensitivity capabilities as chemical/biological agent detectors. State-of-the-art advances in ruggedizing superconducting platforms make them much more robust for field applications. In addition, microminiaturization and advances in refrigeration have enabled the systems engineering of portable, durable, survivable, low power requirement devices. This presentation describes a prototype system employing YBCO (yttrium barium copper oxide) superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDS) with specific biolayer detection dye coatings. These devices may be deployed as specific stand-off detectors, or potentially reconfigured as point sensors. A library of pattern recognition algorithms provides the reference template for the system. The human-system interface will provide a 'yes/no' agent confirmation for the environment being queried, and associated confidence value. This prototype detection system has great potential for deployment in support of hostage rescue/rapid response teams, DMAT, and urban search and rescue. The preparation and characterization of a new generation of optical sensors fabricated from high-temperature superconductor (HTSC) thin films is reported herein. These new hybrid devices are fashioned using HTSC thin films which are coated with organic dye overlayers. These systems are shown to respond selectively to those wavelengths which are absorbed strongly by the molecular dye. Methods for fabricating the superconductor element and depositing the dye layer are discussed. Moreover, resistivity versus temperature measurements before and after dye deposition are utilized to characterize these hybrid structures. The unique optical response properties of these hybrid sensors are also detailed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-56
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 1997
EventTerrorism and Counter-Terrorism Methods and Technologies - Boston, MA, United States
Duration: Nov 20 1996Nov 20 1996


  • Bolometer
  • Device
  • Energy transfer
  • High temperature superconductor
  • Optical
  • Resistance
  • Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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