A remaining challenge in the chem-bio defense community is the simultaneous and reliable detection of a large number of chemicals and types covering all the chemical warfare agents (CWAs) and toxic industrial chemicals (TICs) in a point detection application. The development of a detector with suitable analytical fidelity can be reduced to the development of strategies or techniques to best exploit differences in analyte physicochemical properties. Infrared (IR) spectrophotometry is an established lab technique that provides rich molecular information content; however, performance is degraded for complex mixtures and traditional hardware suffers from relatively low sensitivity.
Navy researchers have developed a device for the accurate and fast identification of toxic chemicals. The device has multiple GC columns, each with a chemosorbent or a chemo-reactive stationary phase and an IR transparent base. The stationary phase comprises a carbosilane polymer with hydrogen bond acidic functionalization. IR light is directed towards the columns and an IR sensor picks up a spectral image that is matched to a known toxin. The device allows for the detection of a wide range of chemicals and vapor pressures present in the air as complex mixtures. To date this has only been possible with large instruments whereas the Navy device is in a hand-held configuration.
- Compact detection system with high detection fidelity
- Analysis can be made as analytes progress along the column, rather than having to wait for end of column elution
- Combining column separation, IR spectroscopy, and arrays of stationary GC phases, the device offers high analyte discrimination with short analysis times
- One important class of TICs, the di-halogens (such as chlorine), are not IR active as separate species but are readily reacted to specific polymer functionalities that provide suitable IR cross sections
- US patent 9,599,567; US application number 20170284976; PCT/US2014/025422; and publication number 2972293 available for license
- Potential for collaboration with Navy researchers