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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Aug 20;99(17):10994-1001. Epub 2002 Aug 13.

FAST CARS: engineering a laser spectroscopic technique for rapid identification of bacterial spores.

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  • 1Institute for Quantum Studies, Departments of Physics, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA.


Airborne contaminants, e.g., bacterial spores, are usually analyzed by time-consuming microscopic, chemical, and biological assays. Current research into real-time laser spectroscopic detectors of such contaminants is based on e.g., resonance fluorescence. The present approach derives from recent experiments in which atoms and molecules are prepared by one (or more) coherent laser(s) and probed by another set of lasers. However, generating and using maximally coherent oscillation in macromolecules having an enormous number of degrees of freedom is challenging. In particular, the short dephasing times and rapid internal conversion rates are major obstacles. However, adiabatic fast passage techniques and the ability to generate combs of phase-coherent femtosecond pulses provide tools for the generation and utilization of maximal quantum coherence in large molecules and biopolymers. We call this technique FAST CARS (femtosecond adaptive spectroscopic techniques for coherent anti-Stokes Raman spectroscopy), and the present article proposes and analyses ways in which it could be used to rapidly identify preselected molecules in real time.

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