- R&D 100 Awards
The IRcell substantially increases infrared spectrometer sensitivity, enabling unprecedented trace gas measurements for advanced industrial and environmental analyses in a compact, easily integrated footprint. Current approaches for the rapid identification of trace gases can be limited in path length for analyzing a sample when space and weight are critical, such as when an IR spectrometer is deployed as a handheld device or on an aircraft or spacecraft. These limited path lengths fail to provide scientists the measurement sensitivity and resolution needed, preventing the identification of important gases. In the IRcell, the beam geometry of the monolithic circular cell yields a compact star pattern that turns a circle only a few tens of centimeters in diameter into a path length of 3.5 meters. The adjustable path length can be increased, depending on the application. The IRcell’s greater sensitivity and resolution allow measurements to the parts-per-trillion level within a fraction of the sample volume, a level never before achieved for some gases. For example, parts-per-trillion measurements could pinpoint effluents associated with the nuclear fuel cycle to monitor proliferation, noninvasively identify disease indicators in human breath and detect toxic industrial chemicals before workers are exposed— all at greater sensitivity and speeds faster than previously recorded for other instruments.