Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

JILA unveils improved 'molecular fingerprinting' for trace gas detection

15.10.2010
Scientists at JILA and collaborators have demonstrated an improved laser-based "molecular fingerprinting" technique that picks out traces of key hydrogen-containing and other molecules from a billion other particles in a gas in just 30 seconds or less—performance suitable for breathalyzers for diagnosing disease, measuring trace gases in the atmosphere, detecting security threats and other applications.

JILA is jointly operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and University of Colorado at Boulder (CU).

Described in Optics Express,* the research extends the range of an existing NIST/JILA invention** to cover the mid-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. This is a critical range, because it includes the frequencies associated with strong molecular vibrations, including various hydrogen bonds. The technology thus can identify a much wider variety of molecules, including virtually any containing hydrogen—the most common element in the universe—and can measure lower concentration levels than before.

The heart of the JILA system is an optical frequency comb, a tool generated by ultrafast lasers that precisely identifies a wide range of different colors of light. Researchers identify specific molecules based on which colors of light, or comb "teeth," are absorbed by a gas, and in what amounts. The comb light usually passes through a gas mixture many times, significantly improving detection sensitivity. Concentrations are measured with the help of molecular "signatures" assembled from databases. The technique works quickly and reliably even when molecules have overlapping, continuous, or otherwise confusing absorption signatures. The rapid data collection, in particular, makes the technology suitable to replace or surpass conventional Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometers for many applications, according to the paper.

In the demonstration, scientists measured a dozen important molecules at parts-per-billion precision, including the greenhouse gases methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide; and the pollutants isoprene and formaldehyde. In addition, the system detected molecules useful in human breath analysis: ethane (a sign of asthma) and methanol (a sign of kidney failure). The system is able to reach parts-per-trillion sensitivity for the first time in detecting carbon dioxide.

Collaborators from IMRA America, Inc. (Ann Arbor, Mich.), developed the fiber laser used to make the frequency comb. The comb itself is based on a non-linear optical process that shifts the light from the near-infrared to the mid infrared. The JILA researchers now plan to extend the system further into longer wavelengths to cover a second important molecular fingerprinting region, to identify a more diverse set of complex molecules containing carbon, and to modify the equipment to make it portable. Planning is also under way for clinical trials of the breathalyzer application.

The research is funded by the Air Force Office for Scientific Research, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Agilent Foundation, NIST, and the National Science Foundation.

* F. Adler, P. Mas?owski, A. Foltynowicz, K.C. Cossel, T.C. Briles, I. Hartl and J. Ye. Mid-Infrared frequency comb Fourier transform spectroscopy with a broadband frequency comb. Optics Express, Vol. 18, No. 21. Oct. 11, 2010.

** J. Ye, M.J. Thorpe, K. Moll and J.R. Jones. U.S. Patent number 7,538,881, "Sensitive, Massively Parallel, Broad-Bandwidth, Real-Time Spectroscopy," issued in May 2009, NIST docket number 06-004, CU Technology Transfer case number CU1541B. Licensing rights have been consolidated in CU. See more in "Optical 'Frequency Comb' Can Detect the Breath of Disease ," in NIST Tech Beat for Feb. 19, 2008, at http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/techbeat/tb2008_0219.htm#comb.

Laura Ost | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nist.gov

Further reports about: NIST Optic Venus Express carbon dioxide greenhouse gas information technology

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow
25.07.2017 | Rudolf-Virchow-Zentrum für Experimentelle Biomedizin der Universität Würzburg

nachricht Fungi that evolved to eat wood offer new biomass conversion tool
25.07.2017 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA mission surfs through waves in space to understand space weather

25.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of the Tibetan Plateau, study finds

25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow

25.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>