New Photoacoustic Cell Detects Multiple Chemicals

A new chemical sensor has been developed by U.S. Army researchers. This sensor is capable of simultaneous real time detection of a large number of agents. This system was reported in a paper released by Optics Letters, the Optical Society's (OSA) journal.

Hearing the telltale sounds of dangerous chemicals

The photoacoustic effect found by Alexander Graham Bell forms the basis of this new system. Identification of even low concentrations of gases can be achieved by adopting a laser and very sensitive microphones within laser photoacoustic spectroscopy (LPAS) technique. These traditional LPAS systems can detect only a single chemical at a time.

Gurton collaboratively designed a sensor ‘photoacoustic cell’ that will foster the development of multi-wavelength LPAS system. The gas being sampled will remain within this cylindrical device. Application of light to the sample will generate a characteristic signal, which will be detected by microphones being built within the device.

A specialized cell was used for this experiment. This cell allows a variety of gases to pass via the device for testing. The entry of five nerve agent mimics’ vapor led to the propagation of three laser beams across the cell. Each of the laser beams showed modulation at varied frequency within the acoustic range.

Multiple "lock-in" amplifiers separate the signals generated by each of the laser. The system was able to detect each of the five gases by examining the results in contrast to a database of absorption information for a series of chemical species.

This optical-based method enables quick detection of agents. This can be achieved when the material under study remains in database and by maintaining a higher level of signal-to-noise ratio.

However, theoretical application of method represents its potential to detect limitless number of chemical agents.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

G.P. Thomas

Written by

G.P. Thomas

Gary graduated from the University of Manchester with a first-class honours degree in Geochemistry and a Masters in Earth Sciences. After working in the Australian mining industry, Gary decided to hang up his geology boots and turn his hand to writing. When he isn't developing topical and informative content, Gary can usually be found playing his beloved guitar, or watching Aston Villa FC snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Optical Society Of America. (2019, February 27). New Photoacoustic Cell Detects Multiple Chemicals. AZoOptics. Retrieved on May 30, 2024 from

  • MLA

    Optical Society Of America. "New Photoacoustic Cell Detects Multiple Chemicals". AZoOptics. 30 May 2024. <>.

  • Chicago

    Optical Society Of America. "New Photoacoustic Cell Detects Multiple Chemicals". AZoOptics. (accessed May 30, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Optical Society Of America. 2019. New Photoacoustic Cell Detects Multiple Chemicals. AZoOptics, viewed 30 May 2024,

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this news story?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.