A Caltech Library Service

µChemLab: twenty years of developing CBRNE detection systems with low false alarm rates

Whiting, Joshua J. and Myers, Edward B. and Manginell, Ronald P. and Moorman, Matthew W. and Pfeifer, Kent and Anderson, John M. and Fix, Cory S. and Washburn, Cody and Staton, Alan and Porter, Daniel and Graf, Darin and Wheeler, David R. and Richards, John and Achuythan, Komandoor E. and Roukes, Michael and Simonson, Robert J. (2019) µChemLab: twenty years of developing CBRNE detection systems with low false alarm rates. In: Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) Sensing XX. Proceedings of SPIE. No.11010. Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) , Bellingham, WA, Art. No. 1101012. ISBN 9781510626850.

[img] PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Gas Chromatography (GC) is routinely used in the laboratory to temporally separate chemical mixtures into their constituent components for improved chemical identification. This paper will provide a overview of more than twenty years of development of one-dimensional field-portable micro GC systems, highlighting key experimental results that illustrate how a reduction in false alarm rate (FAR) is achieved in real-world environments. Significantly, we will also present recent results on a micro two-dimensional GC (micro GCxGC) technology. This ultra-small system consists of microfabricated columns, NanoElectroMechanical System (NEMS) cantilever resonators for detection, and a valve-based stop-flow modulator. The separation of a 29-component polar mixture in less than 7 seconds is demonstrated along with peak widths in the second dimension ranging from 10-60 ms. For this system, a peak capacity of just over 300 was calculated for separation in about 6 s. This work has important implications for field detection, to drastically reduce FAR and significantly improve chemical selectivity and identification. This separation performance was demonstrated with the NEMS resonator and bench scale FID. But other detectors, suitably fast and sensitive can work as well. Recent research has shown that the identification power of GCxGC-FID can match that of GC-MS. This result indicates a path to improved size, weight, power, and performance in micro GCxGC systems outfitted with relatively non-specific, lightweight detectors. We will briefly discuss the performance of possible options, such as the pulsed discharge helium ionization detector (PDHID) and miniature correlation ion mobility spectrometer (mini-CIMS).

Item Type:Book Section
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Porter, Daniel0000-0002-4219-3782
Roukes, Michael0000-0002-2916-6026
Additional Information:© 2019 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). This work was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Microsystems Technology Office (DARPA MTO) under Micro Gas Analyzers Program contract number 017040518. Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory managed and operated by National Technology & Engineering Solutions of Sandia, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-NA0003525. This paper describes objective technical results and analysis. Any subjective views or opinions that might be expressed in the paper do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Energy or the United States Government. The authors gratefully acknowledge consultations with Professor Richard Sacks at the University of Michigan, who inspired this avenue of research; and the assistance of Atilla Kiss and Akos Sule at Neptune Research. A part of this paper was supported by Sandia National Laboratories’ Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) project #s 199974.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)017040518
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-NA0003525
Sandia National Laboratories199974
Subject Keywords:Microfabricated GC, micro ChemLab, GCxGC, MEMS GC, MEMS GCxGC, False Alarm Rate, NEMS, CBRNE
Series Name:Proceedings of SPIE
Issue or Number:11010
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190822-114532729
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Joshua J. Whiting, Edward B. Myers, Ronald P. Manginell, Matthew W. Moorman, Kent Pfeifer, John M. Anderson, Cory S. Fix, Cody Washburn, Alan Staton, Daniel Porter, Darin Graf, David R. Wheeler, John Richards, Komandoor E. Achuythan, Michael Roukes, Robert J. Simonson, "µChemLab: twenty years of developing CBRNE detection systems with low false alarm rates," Proc. SPIE 11010, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) Sensing XX, 1101012 (17 May 2019);
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:98111
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:22 Aug 2019 20:21
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:36

Repository Staff Only: item control page