Summary In 2017, NOAA received U.S. Patent 9,709,491 for its innovative System and Method for Measuring Aerosol or Trace Species. The instrument based on this patent is known as an Open Path Cavity Ringdown Spectrometer (OPCRDS). NOAA is seeking one or more private sector partners to develop a light-weight, miniature version of the instrument for use on drones, balloon-launched instrument packages, or other useful applications. Closed-path cavity ringdown spectrometers transfer a sample through inlet tubing to the optical cavity where its extinction is measured; however, substantial sample loss may occur in the inlet tubing, which can bias the measurements. For example, with aerosols, coarse particles or humidified particles may be inadequately characterized due to either impaction losses with the inlet tubing or evaporation during transport through the tubing. The purpose of the OPCRDS is to eliminate these artifacts and thereby provide a more accurate means of measuring aerosol extinction under a very broad range of ambient atmospheric conditions. A novel feature of the open-path design is that it overcomes the problem of auto-correlated extinction measurements that can arise with closed-path CRD instruments; this is discussed in section 4.1 of the published report on the OPCRDS. Another novel feature of the OPCRDS is the zeroing mechanism which is described in the patent.
Project Goals: The NOAA Open Path CRDS was developed for the Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, CO, in order to support the lab’s aerosol monitoring research activities. The fullsized instrument, which is used for in-situ atmospheric measurements, has been licensed to a U.S. company for commercialization. The miniature version of the instrument is a separate embodiment listed in the patent and has not currently been licensed. Although a prototype of the miniature instrument does exist, interested companies should propose their own design and should be capable of developing the complete instrument based on the proposed end use(s). The goal of the project is to develop a commercially viable instrument that could be used for one or more applications. Companies specializing in scientific instrumentation for the federal, state, and academic markets, both domestic and international, may wish to apply. However, commercially viable applications outside environmental modelling will also be considered. Interested companies should clearly demonstrate plans to attract customers other than NOAA for any product they are seeking to develop. Companies submitting a successful proposal will receive a one-year, no-cost research and development license (see Reference below) which may be renewed under Phase II, should the Phase I activities be deemed successful