Abstract

Standoff detections of explosives using quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) and the photoacoustic (PA) technique were studied. In our experiment, a mid-infrared QCL with emission wavelength near 7.35 μm was used as a laser source. Direct standoff PA detection of trinitrotoluene (TNT) was achieved using an ultrasensitive microphone. The QCL output light was focused on explosive samples in powder form. PA signals were generated and detected directly by an ultrasensitive low-noise microphone with 1 in. diameter. A detection distance up to 8 in. was obtained using the microphone alone. With increasing detection distance, the measured PA signal not only decayed in amplitude but also presented phase delays, which clearly verified the source location. To further increase the detection distance, a parabolic sound reflector was used for effective sound collection. With the help of the sound reflector, standoff PA detection of TNT with distance of 8 ft was demonstrated.

© 2013 Optical Society of America

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