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Advances in Optical Technologies
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 5757361, 12 pages
Research Article

Quartz Enhanced Photoacoustic Spectroscopy for Detection of Improvised Explosive Devices and Precursors

Consorzio CREO (Centro Ricerche Elettro Ottiche), SS.17 Località Boschetto, 67100 L’Aquila, Italy

Received 2 September 2015; Revised 23 December 2015; Accepted 28 December 2015

Academic Editor: Partha P. Banerjee

Copyright © 2016 Roberto Viola et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A compact portable and standalone point sensor has been developed for the detection and identification of precursors of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and to be part of a network of sensors for the discovery of hidden bomb factories in homeland security applications. The sensor is based on quartz enhanced photoacoustic spectroscopy (QEPAS), and it implements a broadly tunable external cavity quantum cascade laser source (EC-QCL). It makes use of an optical cell purposely designed with a miniaturized internal volume, to achieve fast response and high sensitivity, and that can also be heated to improve sensitivity towards less volatile compounds. The sensor has been assembled and successfully tested in the lab with several compounds, including IED’s precursors such as acetone, nitromethane, nitric acid, and hydrogen peroxide. The identification capability and limits of detection near the ppm level have been estimated for all these compounds.