This Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) Phase II project has as the primary focus the development and commercialization of a novel microsensor for the in-situ, real-time detection of toxic organic chemicals. The proposed microsensor will be capable of operating under field conditions, with sufficient sensitivity to permit high detection rates, and with sufficient selectivity to prevent high false alarm rates. Using a revolutionary photo-thermal concept, the detector will operate with both high chemical selectivity and a less than parts per billion sensitivity. The technological concept of the proposed detector (CalSpec) won the 1998 R&D 100 award. The chemical sensitivity can be substantially enhanced to a less than parts per trillion level by simply operating in an integrating chemical detection mode. The objective of this research is to demonstrate highly specific, sensitive and selective detection of organic chemical compounds and to develop a multichemical detector which can detect toxic organics with concentrations varying from a few parts per thousand to a few parts per trillion.
Sensitive monitoring and detection is an area of continuing importance to EPA, DOD, DOE and other federal agencies. The CalSpec detector could be used in a variety of applications, including process monitoring and control, environmental compliance (including emissions monitoring), ambient air monitoring, airport security, personal dosimeters for toxic gases or metal vapor, and smoke and fire constituent detection.