‘Powerful’ software speeds hazardous chemical identification
2 Aug 2016
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have developed new substance analysis software capable of detecting hazardous chemicals in complex mixtures, providing analysis in real-time.
The software, which is designed for use within handheld spectroscopy devices, identifies hazardous chemicals in complex mixtures using Raman spectral decomposition techniques, the researchers said.
This software has the ability to transform portable chemical analysis capability in the field and give instant results to the composition of chemical mixtures
ERI licensing executive Angus Stewart-Liddon
To operate, users must input a set of reference spectra and an unknown mixture into the analysis tool, said Mike Davies, a professor of signal and image processing at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering.
This technique yields the identity of the mixture elements and also reveals their contribution percentages, he said.
“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,” Davies said.
The researchers, who developed the software alongside experts from the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), said performance had already been successfully demonstrated in the identification of real mixtures in different measurement scenarios, “including where component spectra are close to the device’s noise level”.
Rhea Clewes, senior scientist in chemical sensing at the DSTL, said: “This novel software will allow us to accurately identify small amounts of hazardous chemicals much more quickly than before.
“This technology agnostic development allows a range of different signals to be separated, including analytical approaches beyond Raman spectroscopy.”
The university is now looking to licence the software to industry partners via its commercialisation arm, Edinburgh Research & Innovation (ERI).
ERI licensing executive Angus Stewart-Liddon said: “This software has the ability to transform portable chemical analysis capability in the field and give instant results to the composition of chemical mixtures.
“It adds exceptional functionality to a hand held spectroscopy device and its application, particularly for the security industry where rapid chemical analysis of potential hazardous materials, cannot be over-estimated.”