University of Edinburgh develops new chemical substance analysis software technique


Researchers at the University of Edinburgh teamed up with the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory to develop a new chemical substance analysis software technique that could help enhance homeland security measures and the detection of illicit substances.

The system is ideally suited for portable hand-held spectroscopy devices.

It provides efficient, real-time analysis and identification of complex chemical mixtures using new Raman spectral decomposition techniques.

"Inputting a set of reference spectra and an unknown mixture yields the identity of the mixture elements and also their contribution percentages."

The technology-agnostic system can handle large spectral databases to precisely identify mixtures of chemical substances.

Samples composed of a mixture of different chemicals offer a greater detection challenge than pure materials.

The new functionality can be implemented on hand-held Raman spectrometers, thereby enabling a portable, sensitive, non-invasive approach for chemical substance analysis.

The University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation unit, Edinburgh Research & Innovation (ERI), now intends to license the technology to industry partners who intend to deploy it as part of a commercial hardware solution.

University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering  professor of signal and image processing Mike Davies said: “Inputting a set of reference spectra and an unknown mixture yields the identity of the mixture elements and also their contribution percentages.

"It also has the capability of identifying the presence of a spectral component outside the reference library. As such, it is a particularly powerful tool.”