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Police forces that encounter a suspicious room during a house search need to know which chemical substances they are confronted with. Usually, the analysis would be time -onsuming and would involve taking a sample and sending it to an external laboratory.

A new hand-held scanner for hazardous substances detects explosive, toxic etc. in real time and will help emergency personnel with on-site detections at crime scenes, after accidents or terrorist attacks. Portable, eye-safe scanners with the ability to identify numerous chemicals fast and remotely up to a distance of 1 m do not exist to date.

The technology was developed by Fraunhofer IAF together in Germany with partners from research and industry within the EU project CHEQUERS.

The hand-held scanner that enables detection from a safe distance and with fast reaction time is a measuring device based on infrared backscattering spectroscopy. The research team combined very fast widely tunable quantum cascade lasers with adjusted transmission and receiver optics, fast IR detectors and a fitting control and detection software, according to phys.org.

The hand-held demonstrator succeeded at a series of test measurements conducted by the Federal Criminal Police Office in Germany in cooperation with Fraunhofer IAF in early 2019.