8 May 2009 Stand-off detection of trace explosives by infrared photothermal imaging
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We have developed a technique for the stand-off detection of trace explosives using infrared photothermal imaging. In this approach, infrared quantum cascade lasers tuned to strong vibrational absorption bands of the explosive particles illuminate a surface of interest, preferentially heating the explosives material. An infrared focal plane array is used to image the surface and detect a small increase in the thermal intensity upon laser illumination. We have demonstrated the technique using TNT and RDX residues at several meters of stand-off distance under laboratory conditions, while operating the lasers below the eye-safe intensity limit. Sensitivity to explosives traces as small as a single grain (~100 ng) of TNT has been demonstrated using an uncooled bolometer array. We show the viability of this approach on a variety of surfaces which transmit, reflect or absorb the infrared laser light and have a range of thermal conductivities. By varying the incident wavelength slightly, we demonstrate selectivity between TNT and RDX. Using a sequence of lasers at different wavelengths, we increase both sensitivity and selectivity while reducing the false alarm rate. At higher energy levels we also show it is possible to generate vapor from solid materials with inherently low vapor pressures.
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Michael R. Papantonakis, Michael R. Papantonakis, Chris Kendziora, Chris Kendziora, Robert Furstenberg, Robert Furstenberg, Stanley V. Stepnowski, Stanley V. Stepnowski, Matthew Rake, Matthew Rake, Jennifer Stepnowski, Jennifer Stepnowski, R. Andrew McGill, R. Andrew McGill, } "Stand-off detection of trace explosives by infrared photothermal imaging", Proc. SPIE 7304, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) Sensing X, 730418 (8 May 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.818752; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.818752

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