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20 January 2012 Hollow fiber based quantum cascade laser spectrometer for fast and sensitive drug identification
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Sensitive and fast identification of drugs or drug precursors is important and necessary in scenarios like baggage or container check by customs or police. Fraunhofer IPM is developing a laser spectrometer using external cavity quantum cascade lasers (EC-QCL) to obtain mid-infrared (IR) absorption spectra in the wavelength range of the specific vibrational bands of amphetamines and their precursors. The commercial EC-QCL covers a tuning range of about 225 cm-1 within 1.4 s. The system could be used for different sample types like bulk samples or liquid solutions. A sampling unit evaporates the sample. Because of small sample amounts a 3 m long hollow fiber with an inner volume smaller than 1ml is used as gas cell and wave guide for the laser beam. This setup is suitable as a detector of a gas chromatograph instead of a standard detector (TCD or FID). The advantage is the selective identification of drugs by their IR spectra in addition to the retention time in the gas chromatographic column. In comparison to Fourier Transform IR systems the EC-QCL setup shows a good mechanical robustness and has the advantage of a point light source. Because of the good fiber incoupling performance of the EC-QCL it is possible to use hollow fibers. So, a good absorption signal is achieved because of the long optical path in the small cell volume without significant dilution. In first laboratory experiments a detection limit in the microgram range for pseudo ephedrine is achieved.
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J. Herbst, B. Scherer, A. Ruf, J. Erb, and A. Lambrecht "Hollow fiber based quantum cascade laser spectrometer for fast and sensitive drug identification", Proc. SPIE 8268, Quantum Sensing and Nanophotonic Devices IX, 82681Q (20 January 2012);

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