As part of security research laser-based standoff detection is concerned with the development and validation of systems for the detection of pollutants and hazardous substances on surfaces and in the air. CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, explosive) substances may be inadvertently released by industrial accidents or due to natural disasters or intentional attacks. The early identification of the substance is the basis for a qualified intervention by security forces and first-aiderswhile enabling the provision of adequate assistance and protection for victims and emergency teams. The detection method must work quickly and reliablywithout attracting attention to itself. Standoff detection protects against direct contact with the hazardous material. In principle, laser-based techniques allow a timely, discreet and safe classification and partial identification of hazardous materials over long distances. Various interaction mechanisms between laser radiation and matter are used.
As part of the research tasks for standoff detection, the Institute of Technical Physics can draw on its core competence in the development of wavelength-specific laser systems. Its expertise in the field of remote detection has already been used in national and international collaborations on projects such as CHARM, WALES and BODE. The new challenge for standoff detection is to recognise a variety of substances. To keep the overall system compact, the optimum wavelength for the particular substance detection cannot be used since this would require too large a number of laser sources. Instead, optimal combinations of excitation wavelengths must be developed and implemented technically. In addition, the danger to persons posed by the detection method itself must be avoided. In order to satisfy this requirement, the study and development of laser-based methods for remote detection takes place in the eye-safe wavelength range. Atmospheric influences such as varying background radiation, limited visibility in unfavourable weather conditions, smog and dust clouds, and the presence of natural, pollutant-like trace substances must also be considered. Therefore, the validation of the most promising systems is conducted at the optical test range in Lampoldshausen under real environmental conditions. The desired goal is to develop compact, mobile systems for laser-based remote sensing for a fast and effective use in an emergency.