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Project name:

Gas chromatography coupled to photoacoustic spectroscopy: a portable chemical analysis system

Status: Idea
Creation date: 29-11-2021

Project objectives:


An Italian research group is developing an innovative technology capable of identifying chemical substances at trace concentrations (below parts-per-million), even in case of a complex matrix of interfering species. This is achieved by coupling of a microsystem-based gas chromatographic (GC) system with a miniaturized quartz-enhanced photoacoustic spectrometer (QEPAS). The researchers are looking for: financial; license and research cooperation agreements.


The current technology was developed by the Italian research team in collaboration with an other Italian Institute of Research.
The team proposing the technology has a long expertise in materials and processes for the development of microelectronic
devices and micro-electro-mechanical systems.
The technology consists of a portable chemical analysis system capable of identifying chemical substances at trace concentrations below parts-per-million, even in case of a complex matrix of interfering species. This is achieved by means of the bi-dimensional selectivity obtained through the combination of gas-chromatographic separation and photoacoustic infrared analysis technique, in particular but not exclusively in its implementation called quartz-enhanced photoacoustic spectroscopy (QEPAS). The gas-chromatographic module is preferentially a micro-electro-mechanical system based fast gas-chromatographic device, capable of separating complex and low volatility samples within a short time (few minutes) and on a reduced thermal budget. The quartz-enhanced photoacoustic spectroscopy module is preferentially built around an analysis cell with a microscopic internal volume, capable of processing, with high sensitivity and excellent selectivity very small vapor flows, as typically eluting from a fast wall coated open tubular gas chromatographic column.
The system was demonstrated in safety and security applications like chemical, biological and radio nuclear first response or forensic analyses. The Italian research group is looking for:
- Financial agreements: a funded research activity aiming at the demonstration of the capabilities of the GC/QEPAS technology for specific market applications in the field of high-end gas sensing.
- License agreements: the patented GC/QEPAS technology can be licensed for the production of portable high-end analytical gas sensing equipment.
- Research cooperation agreements: through cooperative research, the integration between the GC/QEPAS system and other innovative orthogonal detector technologies can be demonstrated, opening new market opportunities.

Advantages & innovations

The system is a high-end vapour analysis system, relying on the bi-dimensional selectivity of gas-chromatographic separation coupled to a spectroscopic detector. While such combination is already frequently used in laboratory equipment, most notably as gas-chromatography and mass spectroscopy, those systems are complex, expensive and not suitable for portable implementations or in-field analyses, mainly due to the fragility of the ultra-high vacuum pumps necessary for the mass spectroscopy system. The combination of a microsystems-based fat gas-chromatographic system with a specifically designed infrared absorption spectroscopy system enables sensing performances similar to gas-chromatography and mass spectroscopy systems, but in a miniaturized, portable and robust systems. This technology is suitable to rapidly detect in-field specific substances at trace concentrations, even inside a complex interfering sample matrix.

Stage of development

Prototype available for demonstration

Contact/ source: Enterprise Europe Network (


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