Multi-spectrometry airborne toxin sensor

Improves accuracy, reliability and rapid in-situ detection of pollutants in atmospheric air

Military Technology Sensors Environmental

Navy researchers have developed a portable multi-spectrometry system for direct, near real-time detection of chemical and biological hazards in atmospheric air. The patent-pending technology is available via license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

The accurate and fast detection of hazardous chemicals and biological toxins in the air prevents injuries and deaths of military personnel and civilians alike. There are various portable spectroscopy systems in use, because they are robust, don’t require chemicals, and can be used for directly testing atmospheric air.

Unfortunately, most commercially available portable spectrometers are designed and constructed for single-theory operation, i.e., they only utilize one of many spectroscopy technologies, such as Particle-Light-Scattering (PLS), Infra-Red Absorption Spectrometry (IRAS), Molecular Absorption Spectrometry (MAS), Raman Scattering Spectrometry (RSS), and Mass Spectrometry (MS). Each of these provides certain advantageous features for practical air analysis, but also comes with significant limitations.

Navy researchers invented the portable, spectrometric system that integrates multiple spectroscopy theories, and combines their benefits while compensating for their functional gaps. The system directly samples atmospheric air, including particles, aerosols, and spores, and obtains results almost instantaneously, providing actionable intelligence for a rapid response.

The combined spectrometry system incorporates PLS, IRAS, MAS, MFS, RSS, and MS, and also includes an air inlet, outlet, pump, processor, display, and power supply. The modular design allows for custom assembly of the system with varying spectrometric modules depending on specific applications. The system can be transported to a test location, where the pump draws an air sample through the inlet into each module sequentially, meaning the same air sample will be used for each subsequent spectrometer analysis. The results generated are processed and readings are displayed after the air sample exits through the outlet.

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