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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 II

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Project Introduction

A significant technology gap for NASA astrobiology missions is the field detection of organics at the sub ppm level. 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 novel nonlinear Raman spectral sensing instrument for trace organic detection at the sub ppm level based on fluoresence-free surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). The proposed instrument will be capable of detecting the molecular signatures in Martian samples in the field with significantly improved sensitivity (>100,000,000) and reduced noise (>100). It will offer NASA a ultra sensitive deployable instrument suitable for robotic missions in terms of in situ measurements, resolution, bandwidth, compact size, low cost, and ruggedness. The detection of organics at the sub ppm level in Martian-like soils 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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