IARPA Pursuing New Technology to Identify Harmful Aerosols

IARPA Pursuing New Technology to Identify Harmful Aerosols

ODNI News Release No. 05-24
February 21, 2024


IARPA Pursuing New Technology to Identify Harmful Aerosols


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) — the research and development arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — today announced the start of a multi-year research effort aimed at developing technology to detect and identify potentially harmful aerosolized chemicals in challenging environments.

The Pursuing Intelligent Complex Aerosols for Rapid Detection (PICARD) program aims to develop in situ and standoff sensing platforms to identify complex aerosols of non-uniform sizes, chemical composition, and structure in the presence of pollutants, wind, dust, pollen and even volcanic ash.

“Identifying the chemicals in aerosol particles is a particularly hard problem due to dynamic environmental conditions and the way the chemicals mix and mold themselves into unique structures. For example, dust on the surface of a water droplet will change what the sensor sees,” said PICARD Program Manager, Dr. Sherrie Pilkington. “Resulting technology from PICARD will enable the Intelligence Community to more rapidly and accurately detect dangerous chemical aerosols, which will markedly improve the mitigation of chemical threat agents and help protect personnel and U.S. citizens.”

Through a competitive Broad Agency Announcement, IARPA awarded PICARD research contracts to address the full range of research objectives to the following teams:

  • Detect-ION
  • Signature Science
  • Virginia Tech
  • University of Colorado – Boulder
  • SRI International
  • Leidos

Test and evaluation work for the program will be performed by the Naval Research Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories.

The PICARD program is scheduled to run for 42 months.


IARPA invests in high-risk, high-payoff research programs to tackle some of the most difficult challenges of the agencies and disciplines in the Intelligence Community. Additional information on IARPA and its research may be found on www.iarpa.gov.