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Proceedings Paper

Chemical and explosive detections using photo-acoustic effect and quantum cascade lasers
Author(s): Fow-Sen Choa
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Paper Abstract

Photoacoustic (PA) effect is a sensitive spectroscopic technique for chemical sensing. In recent years, with the development of quantum cascade lasers (QCLs), significant progress has been achieved for PA sensing applications. Using high-power, tunable mid-IR QCLs as laser sources, PA chemical sensor systems have demonstrated parts-pertrillion- level detection sensitivity. Many of these high sensitivity measurements were demonstrated locally in PA cells. Recently, we have demonstrated standoff PA detection of isopropanol vapor for more than 41 feet distance using a quantum cascade laser and a microphone with acoustic reflectors. We also further demonstrated solid phase TNT detections at a standoff distance of 8 feet. To further calibrate the detection sensitivity, we use nerve gas simulants that were generated and calibrated by a commercial vapor generator. Standoff detection of gas samples with calibrated concentration of 2.3 ppm was achieved at a detection distance of more than 2 feet. An extended detection distance up to 14 feet was observed for a higher gas concentration of 13.9 ppm. For field operations, array of microphones and microphone-reflector pairs can be utilized to achieve noise rejection and signal enhancement. We have experimentally demonstrated that the signal and noise spectra of the 4 microphone/4 reflector system with a combined SNR of 12.48 dB. For the 16-microphone and one reflector case, an SNR of 17.82 was achieved. These successful chemical sensing demonstrations will likely create new demands for widely tunable QCLs with ultralow threshold (for local fire-alarm size detection systems) and high-power (for standoff detection systems) performances.

Paper Details

Date Published: 31 January 2014
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 8993, Quantum Sensing and Nanophotonic Devices XI, 89931M (31 January 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2032026
Show Author Affiliations
Fow-Sen Choa, Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore County (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8993:
Quantum Sensing and Nanophotonic Devices XI
Manijeh Razeghi; Eric Tournié; Gail J. Brown, Editor(s)

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