Optical Trace-gas sensing

Focused on sensing field, “Optical Trace-gas sensing” is an interdisciplinary research activity in the field of photonic devices, development and application of laser sources, micro- and nanofabrication/manufacturing, ultrafast photonics, infrared spectroscopy and optical instruments. It has decades of academic and industrial experience in semiconductor laser design and applications, management and delivering on collaborative research projects. In the last ten years, it has focused their activity on the development of gas sensors based on quartz enhanced photoacoustic spectroscopy.

In 2017, the group has established PolySense, a joint industry-university research laboratory among University of Bari, Technical University of Bari and Thorlabs GmbH. The PolySense laboratories are located in the Physics Department with a total area of 300 m2. The PolySense LAB group comprises 20 researchers and its main activities are focused on the research and development of innovative optical gas sensing systems. It also carries out interdisciplinary research activities in the field of photonic devices, development and application of laser sources, spectroscopy and optical instruments. The core team members have pioneered the QEPAS technique in tight collaboration with the group of Frank K. Tittel, inventor of QEPAS. Starting from the quartz-enhanced photoacoustic spectroscopy technique and employing Thorlabs’ engineering resources and manufacturing expertise, the PolySense lab aimed to design and produce acoustic detection modules to realize sensor prototypes for highly sensitive real-time measurements.

A first prototype of acoustic detection module is already market-available. (https://www.thorlabs.com/newgrouppage9.cfm?objectgroup_id=11241).

The long-term perspective is to provide portable solutions for in situ and real-time gas detection, leading to advancements in breath analysis, environmental monitoring, leaks detection, hydrocarbon gas sensing and monitoring of toxic gases and explosive precursors. PolySense have realized compact and portable QEPAS gas sensing systems shown at the Photonics West 2018 and Photonics West 2020 Expo.