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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

A Pulsed Nonlinear Raman Detection of Trace Organics with SERS Enhanced Sensitivity, Phase I

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Project Introduction

A significant technology gap for NASA astrobiology missions is the detection of organics at the sub ppm level without sampling. Currently, NASA uses different sensing technologies such as Pyrolysis–GCMS to analyze planetary samples. These instruments require complex sample handling and can process only a limited number of samples. It is critical to develop an effective instrument with extended and enhanced capabilities to enable future planetary multiple-mission needs. We propose to develop a new nonlinear Raman spectral sensing technology for trace organic detection at the sub ppm level. The proposed technology will provide significantly increased sensitivity based on nonlinear Raman detection with Surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). It eliminates the sample preparation process, contamination and other related accessories. Our test samples will be soils from the Mojave, and Antarctic Dry Valley deserts which have measured organic concentrations of 10 to 250 ppm. We will mix unaltered soils with organics removed soils. The detection of organics at the sub ppm level without sampling will be applicable to several future NASA missions, in particular future rovers for the upcoming Mars 2020 mission. These mobile, fast and agile rovers are focused on collection for sample return and require non-sampling analytical instruments. More »

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