An integrated low cost miniaturised Fourier transform spectrometer for the simultaneous measurement of multiple atmospheric species.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Chemistry


Low cost gas sampling is at a premium for a range of industrial and environmental applications. Non-dispersive infra-red (NDIR) spectroscopy is a well-proven and widely used method for low cost gas detection and is now available in a variety of ultra small, low cost configurations. However, while for some species (e.g. CO2) NDIR instruments are capable of high precision measurements in a range of environments, if multiple absorbing species are present, with its restricted spectral resolution (typically 100s of cm-1), NDIR techniques cannot be used quantitatively. We propose to overcome this limitation through the use of a static FTIR with ~ 5 cm-1 spectral resolution, integrated with a compact miniature White cell to produce a prototype ultra compact FTIR spectrometer. The instrument will operate in the mid IR, a spectral region which contains the strong fundamental absorptions of many molecular species.

The deliverables will be:
- A functioning prototype gas FTS spectrometer and absorption cell
- Laboratory validation and sensitivity tests (CO2, H2O, CH4 and N2O)
- Results from limited field trials
Conceptual design for a fully integrated low cost FTIR based instrument
The principal deliverable, an integrated miniaturised low cost FTIR spectrometer, will have wide ranging applicability in low cost gas detection, including industry, environmental monitoring and atmospheric science. The intention would be to seek follow-on funding from TSB and STFC Innovations, and NERC/EPSRC for technical developments and scientific applications.

The Project itself is expected to last for 6 months from 1-Oct 2012.

Planned Impact

The development of an integrated gas sensing system has the potential to have a high impact across multi-disciplinary section of the scientific community. The academic beneficiaries of this technology range from the atmospheric sciences (such as pollution transport meteorologists and climate scientists) through to chemists and volcanologists. The instrument may benefit any science group that operates spectrometers or has the requirement to spectroscopically analyse solid, liquid or gaseous samples. In summary the areas that could benefit from this technology include:
- Atmospheric pollution monitoring. In situ monitoring of urban or industrial areas, deployment on UAVs, balloon sondes and rocket sondes.
- Chemical processing sensors. For example in situ on-line measurements of chemical processes used in large scale pharmaceutical production plants.
- Military/counter terrorism chemical and explosive detection and analysis. Detection of chemical warfare agents.
- Environmental testing, (i.e. HAZMAT, roadside vehicle emissions, gas leak monitoring, etc)
- Medical diagnosis such as testing for diabetes through breath analysis.

The engagement with the Science Community shall be through the routes of publishing in scientific journals (Applied Optics, SPIE etc.) However, this integrated instrument will be of particular interest to certain science groups, these will be identified and shall be approached to either form a direct collaboration or to see whether this technology could be applied to their work in a method that would be of interest to them. Routes to these different user groups shall be through the Universities Research Services and Innovations groups. The engagement with the Industrial Community shall be through attending trade shows and publishing in trade magazines. There shall also be a direct liaison with relevant companies, in order that collaborations can be instigated for future field trials of the instrument. Finally, publicising the work on the internet, and using the Spectroscopy Group website, will automatically focus the communication with both science and industries that are interested in spectroscopy.

In science terms, the impact of the success will be measured by the number of citations of published material and the general interest that this work generates at conferences. In industrial terms, the interest generated from any collaboration formed will be seen as a major success. The economic impact will be reflected in the improved quality of scientific instrumentation that the SIFTS instrument would bring to the world spectroscopy market. It is unique in its technology, and therefore the UK would be advantageously placed to take advantage of the benefits to society and wealth generation.


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Description New methods have been employed to enhance the performance of the spectrometer to improve the sensitivity and it's robustness. We have developed novel data processing techniques and utilised existing technologies to develop the spectrometer further.
Exploitation Route The techniques that were established, especially in the area of the methods of calibration, are currently employed in the devices that we are using in other research projects
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Environment