Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New lasers for police and petrochemistry

18.03.2016

Laser to replace breathalyser – this principle could be the future of traffic controls: Physicists of the University of Würzburg have developed a laser that can be used to measure alcohol in the driver's cab. But the new laser can do much more.

Is this the future of traffic controls? A special laser is set up at the side of the road to scan passing vehicles. Its light is reflected by a mirror positioned on the other side of the road. The laser detects whether there are alcohol molecules inside the vehicle. The molecules get into the driver's cab for example through the breath of a drunk driver.


Wavers made of semiconducting material are the starting point for manufacturing the lasers.

(Photo: Vera Katzenberger)

This laser measurement is surprisingly accurate: The novel alcohol measurement system sounds an alarm if the car is driven by a person with a blood alcohol content of at least 0.1. However, the device cannot distinguish whether it is the driver or the passenger who is drunk.

"But police can use the system to make a preselection, pick out suspicious cars to check them more thoroughly," says Martin Kamp, a physicist at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (JMU) in Bavaria, Germany.

Based on established technology

Martin Kamp has developed the new laser technology (interband cascade laser) together with Professor Sven Höfling at the Department of Technical Physics. The scientists resorted to the well-known technology of laser-supported stand-off detection which helps detecting hazardous substances, for example at airports or major events.

So far, this type of detection has been used to discover hazards such as explosives: When the laser light is reflected by explosives, the spectral distribution of the reflected beams is significant: "The wavelengths are indicative of the object's composition," Kamp says.

Analysing gases in refineries

Hence, this method is also suitable to identify explosives or drunk drivers. The JMU researchers have teamed up with partners from industry to work on additional applications, for example in petrochemistry.

Their current protect is named iCspec. A new laser is being developed by joint effort of various cooperation partners such as Siemens and Nanoplus GmbH (Gerbrunn). It is planned to use the laser in refineries to determine the exact composition of gases.

"The laser would be capable of analysing the composition of the gases created when distilling crude oil in fractions of a second. Hence, it would be an efficient tool in quality assurance and process control in petrochemical processes," says Kamp, who is in charge of the iCspec project. Besides the industry, the European Union also has an interest in the novel lasers: It funds the project within the scope of its Horizon 2020 programme.

First practical tests in the petrochemical industry

The Würzburg scientists have designed very special semiconductor structures for this novel and complex petrochemical application: Up to 2,000 wafer-thin material layers stacked on top of one another in an ultra-high vacuum chamber establish the basis for the state-of-the-art laser.

The new laser is set to be tested under real conditions soon. A practical test in the refinery of Swedish cooperation partner Preem Petroleum AB will require the laser to detect hydrocarbons such as methane, ethane or propane during distillation. Previous tests have been encouraging. "These lasers could revolutionise measurement technology," Kamp says.

Contact

Prof. Dr. Sven Höfling, Chair of Technical Physics, JMU,+49-931-31-83613, sven.hoefling@physik.uni-wuerzburg.de

Dr. Martin Kamp, Institute of Physics, JMU,+49 931 31-85121, martin.kamp@physik.uni-wuerzburg.de

Web site of the EU project iCspec: http://www.icspec.eu

Robert Emmerich | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

IceCube experiment finds Earth can block high-energy particles from nuclear reactions

24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure

24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heidelberg Researchers Study Unique Underwater Stalactites

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>