Detecting Organic Contaminants Using a Spectroscopy-Based Device

  Print Print

"Through the Planet NI program, we closely collaborated with NI engineers to precisely define our DAQ device and user interface development needs. NI also recommended that we work with a postdoctoral fellow specializing in LabVIEW and NI technology. His proficiency with the NI platform, along with NI engineer consulting and technical support, played an important role in this project."

- Dr. Antoine Ghauch, Department of Chemistry, American University of Beirut

The Challenge:
Developing a real-time, nondestructive system to monitor and control water pollution, counterfeiting, and environmental studies.

The Solution:
Combining the benefits of a USB-6251 DAQ device and LabVIEW to develop a spectroscopy-based device for detecting organic contaminants in effluents, dopants in biological samples, and designated compounds used in counterfeiting processes.

Author(s):
Dr. Antoine Ghauch - Department of Chemistry, American University of Beirut
Dr. Ali Ammouri - American University of Beirut
Dr. David Sedlak - University of California-Berkeley

American University of Beirut

Founded in 1866, the American University of Beirut bases its educational philosophy, standards, and practices on the American liberal arts model of higher education. A teaching-centered research university, AUB has approximately 700 instructional faculties and a student body of nearly 8,000 students. The University encourages freedom of thought and expression and seeks to graduate men and women committed to creative and critical thinking, life-long learning, personal integrity, civic responsibility, and leadership.

Detecting Organic Contaminants and Counterfeited Goods

The world faces many problems, including water pollution, counterfeiting, and environmental destruction. Monitoring and controlling such issues is a priority, as they are directly related to society; particularly, human health. Existing monitoring and control devices, although good at identifying a pollution problem or counterfeited goods, are limited in response time. Usually, to perform an analysis, a technician must go through a standard protocol, from the sampling procedure, toward the analysis, through the sample preparation. In addition, some analyses are destructive to samples, and some are limited in their application if they must be moved or transported to the laboratory. These cases require on-site measurements.

While miniaturizing analytical instruments might make taking measurements affordable and technically reliable, it requires assembling a basic high-tech profile from multiple sources to ensure that the final engineered device meets needs quickly and precisely.

Developing a Spectroscopy-Based Device

Our system is based on selected molecules that emit light once stimulated. Some of these molecules can be used as probes integrated in goods and samples. The emitted light has very low intensity and presents a red shift due to lower energy. Light emission is characterized by a delay in the order of microseconds to milliseconds, which is different from a common emission phenomenon, fluorescence, which has a lifetime in the order of nanoseconds or less. Because we can perform this technique on solid surfaces, we can deposit samples on filter papers or any other solid matrix. Direct analysis on samples with an adequate matrix requires minimum preparation and minimal sample destruction.

Our system includes a flash lamp (an excitation source), a shutter (to blind a sensitive charge-coupled device [CCD] detector before any exposure to emitted light from the probe), optical fibers (to transmit excitation and emission), and a CCD detector.

NI Product Benefits

Because the NI Arabia branch office in Lebanon has been serving the American University of Beirut for many years to enhance engineering education and research, we reused NI hardware purchased for a previous project.

One key task for our system was to synchronize triggers for different hardware components at the microsecond level. We decided to use counter/timers with the USB-6251 for accuracy and ease of use. The USB interface provided easy connection to the laptop, and with the LabVIEW system design environment, we generated and acquired data in less time.

Planet NI Program Benefits

This project is funded by the Partnership for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) program, which uses United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funding to support scientists in developing countries and facilitates collaboration with US scientists. In addition, the partnership between Planet NI and the PEER program encouraged us to join the Planet NI program. Through the Planet NI program, we closely collaborated with NI engineers to precisely define our DAQ device and user interface development needs. NI also recommended that we work with a postdoctoral fellow specializing in LabVIEW and NI technology. His proficiency with the NI platform, along with NI engineer consulting and technical support, played an important role in this project.

NI Products: Our Best Choice

Using the latest technologies in instrumental analysis and spectroscopic development is crucial. Fields such as environmental science, forensic science, counterfeiting, and security require rapid, and accurate results. NI products and services are our best choice to detect unique chemical properties in suspected media.

Author Information:
Dr. Antoine Ghauch
Department of Chemistry, American University of Beirut
antoine.ghauch@aub.edu.lb

Bookmark and Share


Explore the NI Developer Community

Discover and collaborate on the latest example code and tutorials with a worldwide community of engineers and scientists.

‌Check‌ out‌ the‌ NI‌ Community


Who is National Instruments?

National Instruments provides a graphical system design platform for test, control, and embedded design applications that is transforming the way engineers and scientists design, prototype, and deploy systems.

‌Learn‌ more‌ about‌ NI