Raman spectroscopy is a prime candidate for the next generation of planetary instruments, as it addresses the primary goal of mineralogical analysis, which is structure and composition. However, large fluorescence return from many mineral samples under visible light excitation can render Raman spectra unattainable. Using the described approach, Raman and fluorescence, which occur on different time scales, can be simultaneously obtained from mineral samples using a compact instrument in a planetary environment. This new approach is taken based on the use of time-resolved spectroscopy for removing the fluorescence background from Raman spectra in the laboratory.

In the SSTARS instrument, a visible excitation source (a green, pulsed laser) is used to generate Raman and fluorescence signals in a mineral sample. A spectral notch filter eliminates the directly reflected beam. A grating then disperses the signal spectrally, and a streak camera provides temporal resolution. The output of the streak camera is imaged on the CCD (charge-coupled device), and the data are read out electronically. By adjusting the sweep speed of the streak camera, anywhere from picoseconds to milliseconds, it is possible to resolve Raman spectra from numerous fluorescence spectra in the same sample. The key features of SSTARS include a compact streak tube capable of picosecond time resolution for collection of simultaneous spectral and temporal information, adaptive streak tube electronics that can rapidly change from one sweep rate to another over ranges of picoseconds to milliseconds, enabling collection of both Raman and fluorescence signatures versus time and wavelength, and Synchroscan integration that allows for a compact, low-power laser without compromising ultimate sensitivity.

This work was done by Jordana Blacksberg of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, download the Technical Support Package free white paper) at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Physical Sciences category. NPO-46752

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Simultaneous Spectral Temporal Adaptive Raman Spectrometer — SSTARS

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This article first appeared in the July, 2010 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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