Gasera’s technology enables a hand-held trace gas analyser for applications in border security
One of the key security challenges in the present day world is the border security. The concern for increasing activity in terrorism as well as smuggling of illegal substances across the borders requires advanced detection technologies and close co-operation between the authorities and the instrument manufacturers. In particular, the deployment of practical efficient means to detect hidden persons and illegal substances at border crossing points is an instrumental challenge. The required trace gas analyzer, which is handheld size, simple to use, sensitive, and capable of providing selective screening over a large number of compounds, is closer than ever, with Gasera’s novel technology.
The applications in border security focus on finding trace levels of vast number of illegal substances and marker volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) in complex background, whether it is at airport security checkpoint, fast screening of luggage conveyor belt or cargo inspection at border crossing points. Some of the common substances targeted for confiscation include typical drugs like MDMA, cocaine and amphetamine, drug precursors of e.g. safrole, BMK and ephedrine, as well as explosives such as nitrotoluene and nitroglycerin, to name a few. Within the purposes of smuggling, these substances are typically very well hidden, concealed in air tight packaging and even mixed in the cargo with compounds releasing aromatic odors to deceive the inspection, so a selective and highly sensitive measurement technology is needed.
Combining the modern broadband gain region, tunable Mid-Infrared QCL’s with a miniaturized and ultra sensitive photoacoustic spectroscopy based on optical microphone unites these two novel technologies into a selective, sub ppb-level, rapid trace gas monitoring instrument for wide range of volatile organic chemicals. Due to the good scalability of both of these technologies, the proposed compact sniffer-type multi-gas spectrum analyzer can be deployed, for example, on to document scanning stations at airports, as a hand-held device for security officers for screening of cabin compartment air and to the future target of low cost lab-on-a-chip sensor network.
Although the main application concentrates on trace gas detection, Gasera’s technology can furthermore be used also in identifying solids and liquids: Combining the PA301 with broadly tunable laser light source and using Principal Component Analysis (PCA), the technology has demonstrated that cocaine abuse can be identified by analyzing human hair samples.