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Standoff Spectroscopy Using a Conditioned Target Identifies Hazardous Materials at a Distance

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing SummaryA safer method for the standoff (long distance) detection and identification of
molecules on a surface has been invented by researchers at ORNL and the University
of Tennessee. This invention avoids the necessity of close and potentially hazardous
contact. It combines tunable infrared (IR) and ultraviolet (UV) spectroscopy techniques
to target identifying properties of surface residues.

DescriptionIn this invention, an initial IR spectrum of a surface thought to contain a residue is taken
with a tunable IR source. Next, the surface is pulsed with a particular wavelength of UV
light, which causes the residue of interest (if present) to decompose. Finally, another
IR spectrum is taken, and the two IR spectra are compared. The difference between
the IR spectra before and after UV radiation will confirm or refute the presence of the
residue of interest. If present, the spectra will exhibit absorption peaks distinctive of the
decomposed molecules of interest.
  • Allows standoff detection
  • Requires no high-powered lasers
  • Generates a unique chemical signature

Applications and Industries
  • Detects explosives, leaks, chemicals, biologicals, and minerals
  • Useful to the Department of Homeland Security, military, law enforcement, forensic science, planetary science, industry, and households
More InformationPatent
Charles W. Van Neste, Marissa E. Morales-Rodriguez, Lawrence R. Senesac, and Thomas G. Thundat, Standoff Spectroscopy Using a Conditioned Target, U.S. Patent Application 12/828,064, filed June 30, 2010.

Lead Inventor
Charles W. Van Neste
Measurement Science and
Systems Engineering Division
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Application 20120002191
A system and method are disclosed for standoff spectroscopy of molecules (e.g. from a residue) on a surface from a distance. A source emits radiation that modifies or conditions the residue, such as through photodecomposition. A spectral generating source measures a spectrum of the residue before and after the residue is exposed to the radiation from that source. The two spectra are compared to produce a distinct identification of the residues on the surface or identify certain properties of the residue.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory 06/30/2010
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated

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To: Nestor Fronco<>