Chaotic Cavity Gas Cell for Optical Trace Explosives Detection

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Project Description

This project advances the detection of explosives using optical techniques. Detection of explosives using light is accomplished by monitoring the power of light that is transmitted through a gas thought to contain the molecules under test, triacetone triperoxide (TATP) for example. To improve upon current optical sensing technologies, the system in this project uses mid-infrared quantum cascade lasers and a unique gas cell designed to increase the distance that the light interacts with the gas. The light emitted from the mid-infrared lasers interacts strongly with the molecules under test and the gas cell, allowing that light to interact over a longer effective distance, both serving to improve the sensitivity of the system. Furthermore, the cavity employed in this project has the advantage that it is compact, robust to environmental fluctuations and inexpensive. Sensors made from this technology will ultimately expand and enhance explosive detection capabilities with improved sensitivity and portability, improving safety of citizens and law enforcement personnel, while reducing the cost and complexity of sensing systems.

Project Leader
  • Anthony J. Hoffman
    Assistant Professor
    University of Notre Dame

Students Currently Involved in Project
  • Michael Harter
    University of Notre Dame
  • Galen Harden
    University of Notre Dame