Abstract

We have developed a compact instrument called the “COmpact COlor BIofinder”, or CoCoBi, for the standoff detection of biological materials and organics with polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) using a nondestructive approach in a wide area. The CoCoBi system uses a compact solid state, conductively cooled neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG) nanosecond pulsed laser capable of simultaneously providing two excitation wavelengths, 355 and 532 nm, and a compact, sensitive-gated color complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor camera detector. The system is compact, portable, and determines the location of biological materials and organics with PAHs in an area 1590 cm2 wide, from a target distance of 3 m through live video using fast fluorescence signals. The CoCoBi system is highly sensitive and capable of detecting a PAH concentration below 1 part per billion from a distance of 1 m. The color images provide the simultaneous detection of various objects in the target area using shades of color and morphological features. We demonstrate that this unique feature successfully detected the biological remains present in a 150-million-year-old fossil buried in a fluorescent clay matrix. The CoCoBi was also successfully field-tested in Hawaiian ocean water during daylight hours for the detection of natural biological materials present in the ocean. The wide-area and video-speed imaging capabilities of CoCoBi for biodetection may be highly useful in future NASA rover–lander life detection missions.

© 2021 The Author(s)

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