OSA's Digital Library

Applied Optics

Applied Optics


  • Editor: Joseph N. Mait
  • Vol. 52, Iss. 12 — Apr. 20, 2013
  • pp: 2626–2632

Standoff photoacoustic detection of explosives using quantum cascade laser and an ultrasensitive microphone

Xing Chen, Dingkai Guo, Fow-Sen Choa, Chen-Chia Wang, Sudhir Trivedi, A. Peter Snyder, Guoyun Ru, and Jenyu Fan  »View Author Affiliations

Applied Optics, Vol. 52, Issue 12, pp. 2626-2632 (2013)

View Full Text Article

Enhanced HTML    Acrobat PDF (579 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



Standoff detections of explosives using quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) and the photoacoustic (PA) technique were studied. In our experiment, a mid-infrared QCL with emission wavelength near 7.35 μm was used as a laser source. Direct standoff PA detection of trinitrotoluene (TNT) was achieved using an ultrasensitive microphone. The QCL output light was focused on explosive samples in powder form. PA signals were generated and detected directly by an ultrasensitive low-noise microphone with 1 in. diameter. A detection distance up to 8 in. was obtained using the microphone alone. With increasing detection distance, the measured PA signal not only decayed in amplitude but also presented phase delays, which clearly verified the source location. To further increase the detection distance, a parabolic sound reflector was used for effective sound collection. With the help of the sound reflector, standoff PA detection of TNT with distance of 8 ft was demonstrated.

© 2013 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(280.0280) Remote sensing and sensors : Remote sensing and sensors
(280.3420) Remote sensing and sensors : Laser sensors
(300.6340) Spectroscopy : Spectroscopy, infrared
(300.6360) Spectroscopy : Spectroscopy, laser
(140.5965) Lasers and laser optics : Semiconductor lasers, quantum cascade

ToC Category:
Remote Sensing and Sensors

Original Manuscript: January 3, 2013
Revised Manuscript: March 11, 2013
Manuscript Accepted: March 15, 2013
Published: April 15, 2013

Xing Chen, Dingkai Guo, Fow-Sen Choa, Chen-Chia Wang, Sudhir Trivedi, A. Peter Snyder, Guoyun Ru, and Jenyu Fan, "Standoff photoacoustic detection of explosives using quantum cascade laser and an ultrasensitive microphone," Appl. Opt. 52, 2626-2632 (2013)

Sort:  Author  |  Year  |  Journal  |  Reset  


  1. A. G. Bell, “On the production and reproduction of sound by light,” Am. J. Sci. 20, 305–324 (1880).
  2. A. Rosencwaig, Photoacoustics and Photoacoustic Spectroscopy (Wiley, 1980).
  3. Y. H. Pao, Optoacoustic Spectroscopy and Detection (Academic, 1977).
  4. A. C. Tam, “Applications of photoacoustic sensing techniques,” Rev. Mod. Phys. 58, 381–431 (1986). [CrossRef]
  5. J. Faist, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, C. Sirtori, A. L. Hutchinson, and A. Y. Cho, “Quantum cascade laser,” Science 264, 553–556 (1994). [CrossRef]
  6. Y. Yao, A. J. Hoffman, and C. F. Gmachl, “Mid-infrared quantum cascade lasers,” Nat. Photonics 6, 432–439 (2012). [CrossRef]
  7. B. A. Paldus, T. G. Spence, R. N. Zare, J. Oomens, F. J. M. Harren, D. H. Parker, C. Gmachl, F. Cappasso, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. L. Hutchinson, and A. Y. Cho, “Photoacoustic spectroscopy using quantum-cascade lasers,” Opt. Lett. 24, 178–180 (1999). [CrossRef]
  8. D. Hofstetter, M. Beck, J. Faist, M. Nägele, and M. W. Sigrist, “Photoacoustic spectroscopy with quantum cascade distributed-feedback lasers,” Opt. Lett. 26, 887–889 (2001). [CrossRef]
  9. A. Mukherjee, I. Dunayevskiy, M. Prasanna, R. Go, A. Tsekoun, X. Wang, J. Fan, C. Kumar, and N. Patel, “Sub-parts-per-billion level detection of dimethyl methyl phosphonate (DMMP) by quantum cascade laser photoacoustic spectroscopy,” Appl. Opt. 47, 1543–1548 (2008). [CrossRef]
  10. M. Pushkarsky, A. Tsekoun, I. G. Dunayevskiy, R. Go, and C. K. N. Patel, “Sub-parts-per-billion level detection of NO2 using room-temperature quantum cascade lasers,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 103, 10846–10849 (2006). [CrossRef]
  11. D. J. Brassington, “Photo-acoustic detection and ranging—a new technique for the remote detection of gases,” J. Phys. D 15, 219–228 (1982). [CrossRef]
  12. M. Harris, G. N. Pearson, D. V. Willetts, K. Ridley, P. R. Tapster, and B. Perrett, “Pulsed indirect photoacoustic spectroscopy: application to remote detection of condensed phases,” Appl. Opt. 39, 1032–1041 (2000). [CrossRef]
  13. B. Perrett, M. Harris, G. N. Pearson, D. V. Willetts, and M. C. Pitter, “Remote photoacoustic detection of liquid contamination of a surface,” Appl. Opt. 42, 4901–4908 (2003). [CrossRef]
  14. A. Mukherjee, S. von der Porten, C. Kumar, and N. Patel, “Standoff detection of explosive substances at distances of up to 150 m,” Appl. Opt. 49, 2072–2078 (2010). [CrossRef]
  15. C. W. Van Neste, L. R. Senesac, and T. Thundat, “Standoff photoacoustic spectroscopy,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 92, 234102 (2008). [CrossRef]
  16. A. Pierce, Acoustics (ASA, AIP, 1989).
  17. B. D. van Veen and K. M. Buckley, “Beamforming: a versatile approach to spatial filtering,” IEEE ASSP Mag. 5(2), 4–24 (1988). [CrossRef]
  18. A. Graninger, X. Chen, and F.-S. Choa, “Stand-off chemical detection using acoustic beam forming and photoacoustic sensing,” presented at the 16th International Congress on Sound and Vibration, Kraków, Poland, 5–9 July 2009.
  19. X. Chen, L. Cheng, D. Guo, Y. Kostov, and F.-S. Choa, “Quantum cascade laser based standoff photoacoustic chemical detection,” Opt. Express 19, 20251–20257(2011). [CrossRef]
  20. Lord Rayleigh, “The photophone,” Nature 23, 274–275(1881).
  21. W. H. Preece, “On the conversion of radiant energy into sonorous vibrations,” Proc. R. Soc. London 31, 506–520 (1880). [CrossRef]
  22. A. Rosencwaig and A. Gersho, “Theory of the photoacoustic effect with solids,” J. Appl. Phys. 47, 64–69 (1976). [CrossRef]
  23. J. R. Cannon, One-Dimensional Heat Equation, Encyclopedia of Mathematics and its Applications (Addison-Wesley, 1984).
  24. X. Chen, L. Cheng, D. Guo, F. S. Choa, T. Worchesky, and J.-Y. Li, “Quasi-continuous-wave operations of quantum cascade lasers,” Proc. SPIE 7750, 775012 (2010). [CrossRef]
  25. J. A. Lay, X. Chen, and F. S. Choa, “Performance comparison of microphone and reflector array structures for real-time and outdoor photoacoustic chemical sensing,” submitted to SPIE Defense, Security, and Sensing Conference (SPIE, 2013), paper 8710-12.

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.

« Previous Article  |  Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited