Review of the development of laser fluorosensors for oil spill application

Carl E Brown, Mervin F Fingas
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2003, 47 (9): 477-84
As laser fluorosensors provide their own source of excitation, they are known as active sensors. Being active sensors, laser fluorosensors can be employed around the clock, in daylight or in total darkness. Certain compounds, such as aromatic hydrocarbons, present in petroleum oils absorb ultraviolet laser light and become electronically excited. This excitation is quickly removed by the process of fluorescence emission, primarily in the visible region of the spectrum. By careful choice of the excitation laser wavelength and range-gated detection at selected emission wavelengths, petroleum oils can be detected and classified into three broad categories: light refined, crude or heavy refined. This paper will review the development of laser fluorosensors for oil spill application, with emphasis on system components such as excitation laser source, and detection schemes that allow these unique sensors to be employed for the detection and classification of petroleum oils. There have been a number of laser fluorosensors developed in recent years, many of which are strictly research and development tools. Certain of these fluorosensors have been ship-borne instruments that have been mounted in aircraft for the occasional airborne mission. Other systems are mounted permanently on aircraft for use in either surveillance or spill response roles.

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