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

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor
24.04.2017 | DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)

nachricht New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers
21.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>