SIGMA+ Sensors

Funding Agency:
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

The Defense Sciences Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is soliciting innovative research proposals in the area of advanced chemical and biological detector technologies to support a networked system of sensors for the detection, interdiction, and deterrence of clandestine weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices, or systems. Specifically excluded is research that primarily results in evolutionary improvements to the existing state of practice.

The United States faces challenges from increased adversarial access to low-cost enabling technologies for the production and deployment of weapons of mass destruction. Additive manufacturing and small-scale chemical reactors, for example, reduce the infrastructure and economic investment required to develop and manufacture weapons with destructive power disproportionate to their size and weight. These developments increase the probability of covert WMD manufacture and deployment, either for terrorist or rogue state purposes, and reduce the observable signatures required to detect their presence. 

The SIGMA program began in 2014 as an effort to significantly advance scalable detection capabilities against radiological and nuclear (RN) WMD threats from these non-traditional, clandestine attack vectors. SIGMA developed thousands of high-capability, low-cost detectors and networked them to demonstrate large-scale, continuously-streaming physical sensor networks for the RN interdiction mission. SIGMA capabilities have been tested and operationalized with federal, state, and international partners. 

The SIGMA+ initiative will build on SIGMA’s successes by developing a persistent, real-time, early detection system for the full spectrum of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) WMD threats at the city-to-region scale. Specific targeted capabilities for each threat mode will focus the envisioned sensor network, advanced intelligence analytics, and adversary modeling developments under one shared network backbone infrastructure and a ubiquitous mobile, adaptive sensing strategy.

This BAA focuses on research, development, and scale-up of chemical and biological sensors as well as their associated algorithms for the SIGMA+ system. Responses outside of this focus will be deemed non-responsive. Current plans include a subsequent BAA, anticipated to be released in the first half of the 2019 Government Fiscal Year, to address the developments for automated intelligence analytics and advanced adversary modeling, as well as further developments for the SIGMA network backbone that are expected to be required to perform full fusion of these data and methods.


o Abstract Due Date: April 18, 2018

o Full Proposal Due Date: May 31, 2018

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

  • Technical Area 1: Chemical Detection
  • Technical Area 2: Biological Detection
    • Technical Area 2.1: Environmental Sensors
    • Technical Area 2.2: Human-Based Sensors

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences

External Deadline

May 31, 2018