The High Throughput Virtual Slit enables compact, inexpensive Raman spectral imagers

By: Edward Gooding*, Erik R. Deutsch, Joseph Huehnerhoff and Arsen R. Hajian


Raman spectral imaging is increasingly becoming the tool of choice for field-based applications such as threat, narcotics and hazmat detection; air, soil and water quality monitoring; and material ID. Conventional fiber-coupled point source Raman spectrometers effectively interrogate a small sample area and identify bulk samples via spectral library matching.

However, these devices are very slow at mapping over macroscopic areas. In addition, the spatial averaging performed by instruments that collect binned spectra, particularly when used in combination with orbital raster scanning, tends to dilute the spectra of trace particles in a mixture. Our design, employing free space line illumination combined with area imaging, reveals both the spectral and spatial content of heterogeneous mixtures. This approach is well suited to applications such as detecting explosives and narcotics trace particle detection in fingerprints.

The patented High Throughput Virtual Slit1 is an innovative optical design that enables compact, inexpensive handheld Raman spectral imagers. HTVS-based instruments achieve significantly higher spectral resolution than can be obtained with conventional designs of the same size. Alternatively, they can be used to build instruments with comparable resolution to large spectrometers, but substantially smaller size, weight and unit cost, all while maintaining high sensitivity. When used in combination with laser line imaging, this design eliminates sample photobleaching and unwanted photochemistry while greatly enhancing mapping speed, all with high selectivity and sensitivity. We will present spectral image data and discuss applications that are made possible by low cost HTVS-enabled instruments.

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