Researchers at the University of Edinburgh, working with
the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), have pioneered a new
chemical substance analysis software technique that could play a significant
role in boosting current homeland security measures and illicit substance
Ideally suited for portable hand-held spectroscopy devices, the
system provides efficient, real-time analysis and identification of complex
chemical mixtures using new Raman spectral decomposition techniques.
This approach, which is technology agnostic, can handle large spectral
databases to accurately pinpoint mixtures of chemical substances. Samples
composed of a mixture of different chemicals provide a much greater detection
challenge than pure materials, which are typically used in laboratory studies
but not representative of real world samples.
This new functionality is computationally efficient enough to be implemented
on hand-held Raman spectrometers, providing a portable, sensitive, non-invasive
approach for chemical substance analysis.
The University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation arm, Edinburgh Research
& Innovation (ERI), is now seeking to license this technology to industry
partners who wish to deploy it as part of a commercial hardware solution.
Mike Davies, Professor of Signal and Image Processing at the University of
Edinburgh’s School of Engineering comments; “Inputting a set of reference
spectra and an unknown mixture yields the identity of the mixture elements and
also their contribution percentages. It also has the capability of identifying
the presence of a spectral component outside the reference library. As such, it
is a particularly powerful tool.”
Performance has been successfully demonstrated in the identification of real
mixtures in different measurement scenarios, including where component spectra
are close to the device’s noise level.
Rhea Clewes, Senior Scientist in Chemical Sensing, Dstl, comments; “This
novel software will allow us to accurately identify small amounts of hazardous
chemicals much more quickly than before. This technology agnostic development
allows a range of different signals to be separated, including analytical
approaches beyond Raman spectroscopy."
Angus Stewart-Liddon, ERI’s Licensing Executive, said; “This software has
the ability to transform portable chemical analysis capability in the field and
give instant results to the composition of chemical mixtures. It adds
exceptional functionality to a hand held spectroscopy device and its application,
particularly for the security industry where rapid chemical analysis of
potential hazardous materials, cannot be over-estimated.”
Further information on the software is available on the ERI website: http://www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk/Opportunities/identification-of-complex-chemical-mixtures-using-portable-hand-held-devices.