Compact Semiconductor Laser-Based Environmental Monitoring System Development

Period of Performance: 03/27/2000 - 04/11/2001


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Physical Sciences, Inc.
Principal Investigator


Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) proposes to develop and demonstrate a novel approach for sensing of chemically contaminated materiel using recently emergent Quantum Cascade laser technology. Although substantial progress has been made in the remote detection of airborne chemical and biological plumes, the important problem of detecting contaminated surfaces after the passage of an active plume has not been adequately addressed. Building on a previous demonstration of QC laser-based DIAL detection of chemical vapor plumes, PSI will adapt our dual wavelength DIAL approach to the detection of trace chemical films on surfaces. Projected detection sensitivities suggest that agents such as VX can be detected at sub-lethal thresholds on surfaces at distances up to a few km. The Phase I program will validate the detection models in laboratory experiments and determine the minimum detectable concentration of chemical agent simulants. These results will be used to design a vehicle-mounted sensor for development and delivery to the AF during the Phase II portion of the program. The proposed sensor will address requirements for remote detection of chemical warfare agent contamination in a compact, easily deployable package which can not be provided using any other known technology. It will also demonstrate a new approach for remote chemical sensing using recently available QC laser technology. PSI and Lucent are jointly developing commercial applications of QC laser-based sensors and expect significant markets to emerge in military, industrial, environmental, medical, and atmospheric sensing.