Abstract

Laser photofragmentation (PF) and subsequent nitric oxide (NO) laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) have been developed to measure the concentration of energetic materials (EM’s), such as 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), in soil and other media. Gas-phase EM’s photodissociate, releasing NO2, when exposed to laser radiation near 226 nm. Laser-excited NO2 predissociates to form NO that gives an intense fluorescence when excited near 226 nm. The EM concentration is inferred from the intensity of the NO fluorescence. A PF-LIF laser-based sensor is being developed to be used with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Waterways Experiment Station’s cone penetrometer to measure in situ the concentration of subsurface TNT. Several factors that affect the PF-LIF signal waveforms, such as sample temperature, laser power, and heating time, were investigated. Also, effects on the PF-LIF signal of adding water and fertilizer to the TNT mixtures were studied. Decay times were determined by least-squares fitting of the exponential PF-LIF signal waveforms. The use of PF-LIF waveforms promises to enable diagnostics of the sample’s characteristics that would otherwise not be possible in situ.

© 1999 Optical Society of America

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