October 2009 - February 2010

During this period the Generation 5 Stand-Off LIBS system located at U.S Army Research Laboratory (ARL), Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, USA, was upgraded to include i) a new-design laser beam expander for 355 nm laser wavelength, and ii) improved system software providing a more user-friendly interface with the operator. The new hardware and software were installed and tested at ARL in February 2010.

Gen 5 CAD model showing 1064 nm beam expander
Gen 5 CAD model showing 355 nm beam expander

Generation 5 ruggedised system:
CAD model showing 1064 nm beam expander

Generation 5 ruggedised system:
CAD model showing 355 nm beam expander

Gen 5 CAD model

Outline specification for Gen 5 ST-LIBS system

  • Range capability: 30 - 100+ metres
  • Ruggedised design for field-deployment
  • Full auto-focus with manual override and auto / manual line and raster scanning of target area
  • Integrated remote viewing camera with zoom capability
  • Collection telescope (16" "Military", RC Optical Systems - modified by APL)
  • Robotic fork mount for collection telescope and laser system (custom designed, APL)
  • Lasers (two 850 mJ @ 1064 nm Nd:YAG lasers, Quantel Brilliant B)
  • 1064 nm and 355 nm configurations, double-pulse
  • Laser beam expander (3 configurations, custom designed, APL)
  • Spectrometer (broad-band VSMS spectrometer and ICCD, PI-Acton)
  • Mobile platform with powered lift jacks and motor drive
  • Integrated air-conditioning unit and thermal management system
  • System software (semi-automated and manual control via LabVIEW system software)

April 2007 - March 2009

During this period we have designed and manufactured two further ST-LIBS™ systems for the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL): Generation 4 and Generation 5.

The Generation 5 Stand-Off LIBS system is a field-deployable, ruggedised ST-LIBS™ instrument.

It is user-configurable as either 1064 nm or 355nm (both double-pulse capable).  In 1064 configuration, either one of two laser beam expanders may be fitted – a 3-inch beam expander which is good for approaching 100 metres range, and a 6-inch beam expander which should be good for 200 metres range.  Gen 5 utilizes two Quantel Brilliant B lasers, a PI-Acton VSMS broad-band spectrograph, and a modified RC Optical Systems 16” military-grade Ritchey-Chretien telescope with UV-Vis-NIR optics.  It also has a built-in air-conditioning system which supplies filtered and chilled air to the base unit, optics and telescope.  The whole system has been ruggedized for field use, with all sensitive components protected against shock and vibration.  The entire design of Gen 5 is fully documented including detailed 2D and 3D engineering CAD data (SolidWorks Professional) and optical design CAD data (Zemax EE).

Generation 5 ruggedised system
Generation 5 fitted with 6" beam expander

Generation 5 ruggedised system

Generation 5 fitted with 6" beam expander

The Generation 4 Stand-Off LIBS system was designed specifically for a series of field trials conducted at Fort Irwin, California, and Yuma Proving Ground (Arizona) between Dec 2007 and August 2008.  The field trials involved mounting the Gen 4 system (plus a suite of other sensors including a Stand-Off Raman system developed by a US company) to an M35 military truck which was then driven to various locations in the Mojave and Arizona deserts.  Operating conditions were harsh due to fine airborne dust, shock and vibration from the movements of the M35 truck, and daytime temperatures reaching 120 F.

The outline specification of Gen 4 is as follows:
Operating range up to 60 metres.  Double-pulse 1064 nm laser (2 x 800 mJ) or 355 nm laser (2 x 150 mJ) configurations.  Three spectrographs covering the wavelength range 245 nm to 950 nm.  14” telescope (modified Meade LX200R) with custom-made robotic forkmount.  Integral laser range finder under system software control to achieve autofocus of laser beam and telescope optics.  Two on-board cameras, one equipped with high-power zoom lens.  Entire system ruggedized for field use with all sensitive components protected against shock and vibration.  External air-conditioning unit used to feed chilled air to Gen 4 electrical and electronic components.  System software written in LabVIEW, allowing for full wireless remote control of Gen 4.

Generation 4 arriving at Fort Irwin
Generation 4 during field trials

Generation 4 arriving at Fort Irwin

Generation 4 during field trials

Gen 4 is currently located at US Army Research Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD.

 

See the ST-LIBS image gallery for more photographs of Gen 4 and Gen 5.

See the ST-LIBS References and Publications page for further information on the detection of energetic materials and explosive residues with Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy.

May 2005 - July 2006

During this period we designed and manufactured three experimental prototype ST-LIBS™ instruments for US Army Research Laboratory (ARL). The three instruments were of the following general specifications:

Generation 1:
  • Double-pulse, 1064nm (300mJ) Q-switched Nd:YAG laser (Big Sky CFR 400)
  • Meade LX90 GPS Schmidt-Cassegrain 8" telescope
  • Ocean Optics LIBS 3000 broad-band spectrometer
  • Operating range 10 - 30 metres
Generation 2:
  • Double-pulse, 1064nm (300mJ) Q-switched Nd:YAG laser (Quantel Brilliant Twins)
  • Meade LX200 GPS Schmidt-Cassegrain 14" telescope
  • Ocean Optics LIBS 3000 broad-band spectrometer
  • Operating range 10 - 60 metres
Generation 3:
  • Quantel Brilliant B plus NCAR Raman cell to produce "eye-safe" output beam of 1543nm
  • Meade LX200 GPS Schmidt-Cassegrain 14" telescope
  • Ocean Optics LIBS 3000 broad-band spectrometer
  • Operating range 10 - 20 metres
ST-LIBS Gen 1 system ST-LIBS Gen 2 system ST-LIBS Gen 3 system

Generation 1

Generation 2

Generation 3

See the ST-LIBS image gallery for more photographs of Gen 1, 2 and 3.

December 2004

Organised by Dr Andrzej Miziolek of US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and funded by NATO, field trials of various configurations of LIBS instrument were conducted during December 2004 in the Arizona desert, USA, with the aim of demonstrating the detection of trace residues of explosive materials. The team consisted of research scientists from ARL, the University of Malaga (Spain), Applied Photonics Ltd (UK) and Ocean Optics Inc (USA). Three types of LIBS instrument were tested in Arizona - a Stand-Off LIBS (ST-LIBS) device developed by University Of Malaga, a Fibre-Optic LIBS (FO-LIBS) device developed by Applied Photonics Ltd, and a Man-Portable LIBS (MP-LIBS) device developed by Ocean Optics Inc.

ST-LIBS equipment at Yuma Proving Ground Fibre LIBS probe under test at Yuma Proving Ground Man-portable LIBS under test at Yuma Proving Ground

ST-LIBS™ (University of Malaga) during field trials in Arizona

FO-LIBS™ (Applied Photonics Ltd) during field trials in Arizona

MP-LIBS (Ocean Optics Inc) during field trials in Arizona

February 2003

A custom-designed ST-LIBS™ instrument was used to remotely analyse highly-radioactive waste residues at the Windscale Vitrification Plant (WVP) at the Sellafield nuclear site in northwest England. The ST-LIBS™ instrument was deployed by directing the laser beam through a 1.5 metre thick lead-glass shield window so that a laser generated plasma was created on various residues inside the hot cell. Results of the analysis were used to deduce the source of the residue deposits so that appropriate remedial action could be taken.

ST-LIBS system used at hot-cell View through hot-cell window Hot-cell facility

ST-LIBS™ instrument used at hot-cell

View through a hot-cell window

Hot-cell facility

Summer 2002

A custom-designed ST-LIBS™ instrument was used to remotely determine the composition of liquid aluminium alloy during an experimental program conducted at a European aluminium manufacturing plant.

Spring / Summer 2001

A custom-designed ST-LIBS™ instrument was used at the Wylfa nuclear power station (Anglesey, UK) to identify cooling water tubes and reinforcing bars within the concrete pressure vessel of the Magnox reactors. Access to the components being analysed was via 20mm diameter boreholes drilled into the concrete structure and which could be up to 1 metre in length.

Wylfa nuclear power station Schematic of ST-LIBS system deployed at Wylfa ST-LIBS system deployed at Wylfa

Wylfa nuclear power station

Schematic of ST-LIBS™ system deployed at Wylfa

ST-LIBS™ deployed at Wylfa

Autumn 2001

A custom-designed ST-LIBS™ instrument was used to remotely characterise radioactive materials in the Basket handling Cave of the Thorp spent-fuel reprocessing plant at the Sellafield nuclear site (UK). Deposits of an unknown material were found to be accumulating on the upper sections of the dissolver baskets - there was a requirement to characterise this material, preferably in-situ so as to avoid problems associated with physical sampling and removal of the radioactive material from the hot cell.

Sellafield nuclear site Schematic of ST-LIBS system deployed at Sellafield Deployment of ST-LIBS instrument

Sellafield site, West Cumbria, UK

Deployment of ST-LIBS™ instrument