New Scanning Laser Identifies Materials

Well this certainly falls into the search for the Holy Grail category, at least as it applies to remote sensing – namely, the ability to identify materials from afar. This has long been the promise of hyperspectral imaging, but as we have seen over the past 30 plus years there is a difference between promise and reality.

Let’s hope that this same “it’s just around the corner” mentality does not apply to the work being done by a group of researchers at the University of Michigan who claim to have developed a scanning laser that is capable of identifying materials.

Here’s the theory.

“Most lasers emit of one wavelength, or color, of light. The new system, however, emits a broadband beam of infrared energy that has columns of light across a spectrum of wavelengths. The beam is in the infrared region, making it invisible to human eyes.

The engineers said infrared light contains the “spectral fingerprinting range,” or frequencies that represent the vibrations of the molecules within a solid substance. The so-called spectral fingerprint is determined by which wavelengths of light are absorbed or reflected, since various substances interact with infrared light differently.”

Bring it on.

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