Quasar Leads Development of Advanced Sensing Technologies for Government

In the 11 years since Andrew Hibbs started QUASAR, the privately held company has flourished by developing a smorgasbord of sophisticated sensing technologies under various government research and development contracts.

I met Hibbs more than a decade ago, during the formative years of San Diego’s Quantum Magnetics, where he led development of advanced electromagnetic sensors so sensitive they could detect the unique molecular resonance of explosives. His work resulted in the first commercially available explosives detector using Nuclear Quadrapole Resonance, a technology akin to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans that are commonly used in medical diagnostics.

Hibbs founded QUASAR in 1998, after InVision Technologies acquired Quantum Magnetics (and General Electric acquired InVision in 2004). Hibbs acquired a penchant for studying the quantum phenomena at the core of such technologies while earning his PhD in physics at England’s Cambridge University. In fact, he named the company for Quantum Applied Science & Research.

Since QUASAR was founded, Hibbs has formed a group of several related companies focused on biomedical, geophysical, and various military applications of electromagnetic sensing. The company bills itself as a world leader in low-frequency electromagnetic sensing systems that operate at room temperatures (at frequencies from 0.01 Hz to 5 MHz).

When I dropped in for a briefing earlier this week, Hibbs was out of town, so I met with Lowell Burnett, chief technology officer for QUASAR Federal Systems and at least four other PhDs who oversee different development efforts within the group. Burnett told me the QUASAR group has grown to about 70 employees (at least a third are former Quantum Magnetics employees), funded solely by revenues from government contracts.

Burnett says QUASAR’s scientists have made steady advances in electromagnetic sensors, particularly in electric field sensors, with each group applying … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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