Laser ID of white powders

Scanning Michelson interferometer
Scanning Michelson interferometer used to modulate the OPO idler beam (green) and the HeNe displacement-calibration beam (red).

Since 2014 the Ultrafast Optics Group at IPaQS has been developing unique infrared lasers for chemical sensing applications.  Sponsored originally by Dstl, this work led to the development of optical parametric oscillators producing femtosecond pulses continuously tunable from 5 – 13 µm.  The broad instantaneous bandwidths of these sources makes them ideal for spectroscopic applications in which solids, liquids, gases and aerosols can be identified from their 'spectral fingerprint'.  A recently published article in Optics Express explained how this could be used to identify various white powders with no physical contact or special preparation required.  In October 2018 the research was featured on BBC and STV  television news, and by Physics.Org, the Independent, the IET, the Scotsman and many online publications. 

Optics Express 26, 25364