To develop a deeper understanding of the optical signatures of both biological aerosols and potential interferents, we made field measurements of optical cross sections and compared them to model-based predictions. We measured aerosol cross sections by conducting a hard-target calibration of a light detection and ranging system (LIDAR) based on the Frequency Agile Laser (FAL). The elastic backscatter cross sections are estimated at 19 long-wave infrared (LWIR) wavelengths spanning the range from 9.23 to 10.696 μm. The theoretical modeling of the elastic backscatter cross sections is based on the measured refractive index and size distribution of the aerosols, which are used as inputs into Mie calculations. Both model calculations and experimental measurements show good agreement and also indicate the presence of spectral features based on single particle absorption in the backscatter cross sections that can be used as a basis for discrimination for both standoff and point sensors.
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