Washington: In a new study, researchers were recently able to identify individual chemicals located 1 kilometer away with the help of single shot of laser light.
Vladislav Yakovlev, a biomedical engineer at Texas A and M University, said that this opened up the door to an entirely new method for remote sensing, as no one has been able to obtain such long distances, and especially not on a single-shot basis, the Verge reported.
He further explained that this technique would allow for the detection of hazardous chemicals from a safe distance in real time and the military applications for a device like this are pretty obvious, but there are many non-military applications as well like law enforcement might be able to use the system to detect drugs or it could even be used in future space missions to Mars.
The technique "Raman scattering," a physical phenomenon that involves light passing through a material, was used causing it to vibrate at a level that`s specific to the molecules contained in the material. The ensuing scattering of light caused a color change in a small percentage of the laser pulses that hit the target. The study has brought researchers much closer to the chemical-detecting planes.
This has allowed the scientists to differentiate similar-looking powders like ammonium nitrate and sodium nitrate, both of which could be used to make bombs from 400 meters away. Researchers have also established that the system was reasonably safe, as the only real potential for harm was the effect that the laser might have on human eyes something that operator could avoid by wearing eye protection.
The whole system could be accumulated for around 30,000 dollars, but the researchers are working on to make it more "real-world friendly". However, to do so they would have to identify which conditions are optimal for irradiation in addition to making sure that the device could identify mixtures of chemicals as accurately as it could identify individual components.
The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.