Sensors are needed for a variety of military and commercial applications, including but not limited to, the detection of light, pressure, strain, temperature, and presence of gases. Many of these sensors make use of the optical properties of materials. For example, ASL is using the luminescent properties of rare-earth doped nanoparticles to measure the temperature under extreme conditions during fast events, such as explosions and combustions. This approach allows ASL to measure the temperature not only at the surface temperature but also inside the fireball. Another example is taking advantage of atmospheric nitrogen to detect hidden improvised explosive devices from a safe standoff distance. This approach provides an alternative route to excite explosive molecules via a laser. A third example is focused on improving the light emission properties of nuclear radiation sensors by combining nanophase scintillator materials with metallic nanoparticles. This approach can increase the radiative decay rate of the scintillator.