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SPIE and Laurin Publishing name Block Engineering a Prism Award winner for its LaserScan™ Analyzer, a Quantum Cascade Laser based mid-infrared spectrometer for noncontact, standoff chemical analysis of surface contaminants

San Francisco, CA – February 3, 2011

Prism Awards logoSPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and Laurin Publishing, publisher of Photonics Media, have announced Block Engineering as the winner of the 2011 Prism Award for Photonics Innovation in Defense & Security at the SPIE Photonics West 2011 Conference.

Winners of the Prism Awards, the premier competition for the photonics industry worldwide, were announced Wednesday night at a banquet in the Moscone Center in San Francisco held during SPIE Photonics West, the largest event in the field.

The Prism Awards, introduced for the first time in 2008, recognize the best in innovative technology within the multi-billion dollar business of optics and photonics. A distinguished panel of independent judges acknowledged as experts in their respective fields selected the winners from more than 80 entries.

Block Engineering won the award for its new LaserScan (TM) Analyzer, which is a Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCLs) based mid-infrared spectrometer that analyzes surfaces from a standoff distance of 6 inches to 2 feet. LaserScan can be used to detect explosive materials, traditional and nontraditional chemical agents, toxic industrial chemicals and other surface contaminants or chemical threats. Although the system won for the Defense & Security category it also has many commercial applications including cleaning validation for pharmaceutical manufacturing, analysis of polymers and quality assurance and control.

"We are grateful to the panel of experts that selected our product out of the many applicants," said Adam Erlich, VP of Marketing and Business Development of Block Engineering. "It is a tremendous validation of our team's work in creating the first handheld mid-IR laser based spectrometer. This product enables users to chemically analyze samples at a distance, and we are proud that we have received this prestigious award that recognizes LaserScan as a valuable and unprecedented new product."

Prism Awards photoPetros Kotidis, CEO of Block Engineering, commented, "Innovation is built into our company's DNA. We have been successfully serving the defense and security markets for many years and we are also now aggressively expanding into new and exciting commercial markets. We are introducing products that never existed before, paving new technology ground and creating exciting and profitable markets. We are honored to receive this prestigious award."

"The successful launch of the Photonics Prism Awards demonstrates how committed we are to the future of photonics technology and its impact on the planet for years to come," said Thomas Laurin, vice president of Laurin Publishing. "Response to the awards in the first year was very strong, and the products and processes submitted for review are world-class. They reflect both the leadership and expertise of the organizations in this field."

"These winning inventions demonstrate the remarkable creativity of the photonics community, the restless inventive energy that is what SPIE is all about," said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. "I expect that many of these or their derivatives will be successful new products – the lifeblood of any company. They will help customers be more effective and so be a part of the great photonics enterprise that has already contributed so much to enhance our lives and that will play an increasingly important role in a sustainable future."

About Block Engineering:

Founded in 1956, Block Engineering is a leading developer of high performance QCL and FT-IR spectrometers for chemical detection and analysis to military, government, commercial, and industrial customers. Its Mobile Chemical Agent Detector (MCAD) system, in partnership with Northrop Grumman Corporation, and, PORTHOS (TM), a portable FT-IR spectrometer system, remotely detect chemical threats as far as 3 miles and protect against chemical warfare agents and weapons of mass destruction. Following this success, Block has applied its extensive knowledge of spectroscopy and chemical detection towards the commercialization of its high performance QCL based spectrometers. In addition, Block is developing a revolutionary MEMS-based, miniaturized spectrometer, the ChemPen (TM) which is a low cost, FTIR chemical gas detector the size of a fountain pen.

Block Engineering is headquartered in Marlborough, Massachusetts, USA. For more information, visit http://www.blockeng.com.

More information about the Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation can be viewed online at http://www.PrismAward.org, http://spie.org/photonics-west.xml and http://photonics.com.

Laurin Publishing is located in Pittsfield, MA, with additional offices throughout the world. Under Photonics Media, the company publishes Photonics Spectra, Biophotonics International, EuroPhotonics, The Photonics Showcase, The Photonics Directory, Photonics.com, The online Photonics Directory and five electronic newsletters: Planet Photonics, LEDs/Light Sources, Security, Remote Sensing and Vision/Imaging. For more information visit http://www.photonics.com.

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, was founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 180,000 constituents from 168 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent and career and professional growth. SPIE annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific, and supports scholarships, grants and other education programs around the world.