The objective of the proposed project is the development of instrumentation capable of analyzing a given gaseous sample with a full chemical specificity, with ultimate sensitivity, and real time speed. These challenging demands will be simultaneously satisfied by applying optical detection methods based on high-power, ultra-broadly and rapidly tunable mid-IR laser sources, and compatible sensing and signal enhancing techniques. The proposed laser optical nose operating over the spectral range of molecular fingerprint region (2-20 ?m) will give direct access to the strongest absorption lines of biologically, medically, environmentally, and chemically relevant trace gas molecules and is expected to have a broad technological relevance for many different fields of science and technology. The development project will bring together laser scientists, optical sensor and spectroscopy experts, environmental scientists, molecular biologists, chemists and biochemists, and biomedical research communities in an exciting environment of interdisciplinary research and education, and will provide the opportunity for understanding life processes and important new discoveries in biomedicine, environmental monitoring, and Counter-Terrorism related detection of toxic and explosive materials. Such sensitive optical nose instrumentation will help to address current state and regional environmental problems and concerns (i.e. such as what exists at the Anniston Army Depot chemical weapon incinerator). In the national arena, these sensor systems will give a unique capability of trace gas detection essential for oil prospecting, environmental monitoring, atmospheric research, food production, and on-site nondestructive detection and characterization of explosives, and biological and chemical toxic substances. This capability will help to detect dangerous agents at the earliest possible stage (e.g., airport screening) before deployment by terrorists, and may avoid future chemical, and biological terrorist attacks. The instrumentation to be developed has the potential to become the major resource for trace gas analysis for the state and region. The development of new toxic detection and characterization products and technologies may lead to new spin-off companies, and help Alabama-based industries evolve from traditional heavy manufacturing jobs to future-oriented environmental science and high-tech sensing-related jobs requiring a more highly educated and skilled workforce.

Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Alabama Birmingham
United States
Zip Code