Chemical detector for rapid, simultaneous identification of multiple toxins

Multimodal gas chromatographic (GC) columns, operated in a parallel with infrared spectroscopy—all in a hand-held unit


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.

US application number 20170284976 is a continuation of this US patent 9,599,567. International applications exist as PCT/US2014/025422 and publication number 2972293.

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