A Camarillo research and development firm, Xsirius Inc., has received a Defense Department grant to work on a new type of detector for measuring radioactivity at various government installations.
A company official said the device will be used to search out plutonium contamination on Johnson Atoll in the South Pacific. The United States destroyed nerve gas chemical weapons on the atoll several years ago.
Bernhardt Denmark, chairman and chief executive of Xsirius, declined to disclose the amount of the grant but said it could lead to a follow-on award of up to $250,000 later this year. The second order would be to develop demonstration units, he said.
"If the project goes as expected, we'll receive production orders worth considerably more than that in 1995," he added.
Denmark said Xsirius' gamma-ray detector provides improved performance and reduced costs compared with units now being used. The new device uses mercuric iodide, a semiconductor material.
Xsirius, founded in 1986, is now working on orders totaling more than $1 million from clients that include the Defense Department, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy.