Spectroscopic analysis uses the light spectrum to determine the characteristics of a source material.
It might sound dry or scientific, but in fact this technique is playing an increasingly prominent role in national and international security, including monitoring and control at borders and checkpoints.
A new generation of spectroscopic analysers offers handheld capability for lab-standard analysis of a wide range of powders, solids and liquids.
At the forefront of this advanced technological development is Rigaku and its Raman Progeny and CQL analysers.
Molecules can absorb energy when excited with a high energy light source, the vibration and stretches between bonds can be measured. It creates, effectively, a unique fingerprint for many compounds.
Internal structures of the molecules are all different from each other, so each molecule will emit different a different spectrum/fingerprint. This can be search matched against a vast library of known chemicals.
Spectroscopic instruments are essential tools in chemistry and across a broad range of industries and sectors, including pharmaceutical and medicine, food and drink, agriculture, continuous processing and the environment.
Raman spectroscopy is a branch of laser spectroscopy, named after its inventor, the Indian scientist CV Raman.
He discovered that when light shines on a molecule, it gives it a small amount of energy. It causes the light to change wavelength, which acts as a fingerprint for identifying the molecule.
This technology enables operators to detect hazards and analyse potentially hazardous materials in the field, without making contact with them.
It is now as useful and accurate in the field as in the lab.
Another benefit of this analysis technique is that it is non-destructive to the sample it analyses.
In security situations, that means that the original material can be kept intact for later, more detailed forensics, and be retained as evidence. Also many of these substances can be very hazardous, being able to analyse through barriers is very advantageous.
By avoiding physical contact with the sample, this method ensures the sample retains its integrity, reduces contact with the user and public. Again, it is essential if the sample is to become evidence.
Rigaku has pioneered the use of high-performance 1064nm laser diodes in durable handheld devices.
This has enabled technologically advanced spectroscopy to be both portable and flexible.
The rugged housing and design of these devices has made them better suited for a broader range of applications.
Traditionally, handheld Raman analysers were mainly used by scientists, academics and researchers in manufacturing industries.
However, the new breed of Raman analysers is now becoming part of the essential technology that security professionals employ to protect society.
In the US, the military, border patrols, first responders and law enforcement officers are all making use of Rigaku’s handheld Raman analysers.
Drawing on powerful 1064nm laser technology, these devices have an expanded capability, including being able to identify coloured substances or see through packaging.
This is an advance on traditional medical and academic applications, where samples tend to be pure and clear.
Consequently, the next generation of handheld Raman analysers is more readily attuned to real world circumstances, and therefore perfect for use in security situations.
Various agencies in the US and worldwide have been using the techniques of spectroscopy in the field.
Rigaku has also been demonstrating the capability of its handheld devices at various US Government facilities.
The Raman CQL is a new platform for handheld spectroscopy, providing a durable, versatile means for rapid analysis of materials in the field.
It takes quality and performance associated with laboratory conditions out into the wider world.
Recognising the need for this type of advanced technology in a wide range of security-related situations, Rigaku has made the Raman CQL highly adaptable, so that users can seamlessly integrate it into any work environment.
Driving the Raman CQL is a miniature, VPG-based optical engine with a 1064nm laser diode.
Externally its enclosure is built for resilience, and its user interface is smartphone-inspired, making it ideal for users to get to grips with.
Where once the miniaturisation of Raman instrumentation meant compromising on the quality of results, now the Raman CQL’s 1064nm technology makes it a robust and reliable portable instrument for critical field work and evidence gathering.