8 May 2009 Development of a MEMS-scale photoacoustic chemical sensor for trace vapor detection
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Photoacoustic spectroscopy (PAS) is a useful monitoring technique that is well suited for trace gas detection. This method routinely exhibits detection limits at the parts-per-million (ppm) or parts-per-billion (ppb) level for gaseous samples. PAS also possesses favorable detection characteristics when the system dimensions are scaled to a microsystem design. Micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS)-scale designs offer the possibility to develop photoacoustic sensors in which the signals would remain at sensitivities similar to or greater than those typically found in macro-scale devices. The objective of the present work is to develop a monolithic MEMS-scale photoacoustic trace gas sensor utilizing the Army Research Laboratory's chemical and biological sensing capability. In order to realize the advantage of photoacoustic sensor miniaturization, light sources of comparable size are required. Quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) have been tested in combination with MEMS-scale photoacoustic cells. This sensing platform has provided favorable detection limits for a standard nerve agent simulant. Current research employs this sensor scheme for the detection of 2,4-dinitrotoluene, a degradation product of TNT. Preliminary results describing the sensor capabilities and performance for the detection of this compound will be presented.
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Ellen L. Holthoff and Paul M. Pellegrino "Development of a MEMS-scale photoacoustic chemical sensor for trace vapor detection", Proc. SPIE 7304, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) Sensing X, 73040K (8 May 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.817757; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.817757

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