Progress towards the development of a longwave infrared quantum cascade laser (QLC) based standoff surface contaminant detection platform is presented. The detection platform utilizes reflectance spectroscopy with application to optically thick and thin materials including solid and liquid phase chemical warfare agents, toxic industrial chemicals and materials, and explosives.
The platform employs an ensemble of broadband QCLs with a spectrally selective detector to interrogate target surfaces at 10s of m standoff. A version of the Adaptive Cosine Estimator (ACE) featuring class based screening is used for detection and discrimination in high clutter environments. Detection limits approaching 0.1 μg/cm2 are projected through speckle reduction methods enabling detector noise limited performance.
The design, build, and validation of a breadboard version of the QCL-based surface contaminant detector are discussed. Functional test results specific to the QCL illuminator are presented with specific emphasis on speckle reduction.