Laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) is a well-established technique for monitoring chemical processes and for the standoff detection of biological substances because of its simple technical implementation and high sensitivity. Frequently, standoff LIF spectra from large molecules and bio-agents are only slightly structured and a gain of deeper information, such as classification, let alone identification, might become challenging. Improving the LIF technology by recording spectral and additionally time-resolved fluorescence emission, a significant gain of information can be achieved. This work presents results from a LIF based detection system and an analysis of the influence of time-resolved data on the classification accuracy. A multi-wavelength sub-nanosecond laser source is used to acquire spectral and time-resolved data from a standoff distance of 3.5 m. The data set contains data from seven different bacterial species and six types of oil. Classification is performed with a decision tree algorithm separately for spectral data, time-resolved data and the combination of both. The first findings show a valuable contribution of time-resolved fluorescence data to the classification of the investigated chemical and biological agents to their species level. Temporal and spectral data have been proven as partly complementary. The classification accuracy is increased from 86% for spectral data only to more than 92%.
Keywords: biological agents; early warning; fluorescence lifetimes; laser-induced fluorescence (LIF); standoff detection.