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Proceedings Paper

Quantum cascade laser (QCL) based sensor for the detection of explosive compounds
Author(s): Erwan Normand; Iain Howieson; Michael McCulloch; Paul Black
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Paper Abstract

Following Cascade Technologies first success at using Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCL) for trace gas detection in the continuous emission monitoring market, the core technology platform is now being developed towards homeland security applications. This paper will highlight the potential of QCL based trace gas sensor for detecting vapours of explosives. Furthermore we will present results that let foresee the use of such technologies at addressing security gaps for protection against terrorism in infrastructures where high throughput screening of individuals or items is required. Preliminary measurements have shown that rapid identification, or fingerprinting, of explosive is achievable in 10ms at extrapolated sensitivities in the sub-part per billion range. The experiments were carried out with support form the Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB) in the UK and were focused at selecting a variety of explosive compounds and showing their detection using a novel sniffer platform system based on the use of quantum cascade lasers. Preliminary studies on the technology have indicated that direct fingerprinting (detection - identification) of explosive compounds such as NG and tagging agents such as EGDN by sniffing surrounding ambient air is achievable. Furthermore these studies have also indicated that detection of such compounds on packaging used to ship the sealed compounds is possible, making this platform a strong contender for detection through cross contamination on material that have been in contact with each other. Additionally, it was also possible to detect breakdown products associated with sample material NG providing a further capability that could be exploited to enhance the detection and identification of explosive compounds.

Paper Details

Date Published: 28 September 2006
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 6402, Optics and Photonics for Counterterrorism and Crime Fighting II, 64020G (28 September 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.695423
Show Author Affiliations
Erwan Normand, Cascade Technologies (United Kingdom)
Iain Howieson, Cascade Technologies (United Kingdom)
Michael McCulloch, Cascade Technologies (United Kingdom)
Paul Black, Cascade Technologies (United Kingdom)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6402:
Optics and Photonics for Counterterrorism and Crime Fighting II
Colin Lewis; Gari P. Owen, Editor(s)

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