The main objective is to design and build the innovative CORaHE (COld Raman Head) sensor for Deep-UV Raman spectroscopy, to operate under cold environments between -30 and -5 oC. This portable sensor will perform non-destructive micro-Raman measurements of cold samples, without any limitation in size. The CORaHE sensor has been designed to cover the absence of technology to perform such measurements, either in a laboratory or in the field, on sensitive samples having temperatures as low as -30 oC. Samples will not be destroyed like it is done currently with the use of cryocells. For laboratory analysis, the sensor will be placed inside a cold laboratory (-30 to -5 oC) while the Raman spectrometer and the computer control of the motorised X-Y-Z microscopy stage will be set outside, at room temperature. For field works in cold environments, the spectrometer will be placed in a thermic box at 15-20 oC.
The envisioned scientific and industrial applications for short-medium term include the characterisation of: Ice-core climate records, Snow and Permafrost samples, Clathrate hydrates, Organic trapped chemicals or Clays and other Hydrated Minerals, as well as industrial applications in the field of: Low-temperature molecular electronics, Frozen food, Protection from Ice or Future robotic missions to Icy Worlds.
The new CORaHE sensor can be used not only in cold environments but also at room temperature, enhancing its use to broad areas of application. Such areas are those covered currently by Raman spectroscopy but with the enhanced capabilities of the Deep-UV excitation.
The detection and/or quantification of inorganic and organic chemical compounds with the new sensor will contribute to all of the societal challenges, with important benefits for the European society and their citizens, for example the new Deep-UV CORaHe sensor will be: (a) a more sensitive and healthy sensor than other Raman sensors currently used for diagnosis in Medicine, (b) a more powerful device in the detection of prohibited chemicals in surfaces of foods, agriculture soils and forestry products, (c) a standard for quality control of chemicals used in batteries and devices for energy accumulation, (d) the tool to check microelectronic based devices for control of the transport systems, (e) a critical technology to easily characterise environmental atmospheric particulate matter, bio-films, minerals and organics, (f) the tool to enhance Raman spectroscopy as the preferred analytical technique to diagnose the conservation state of Cultural Heritage materials, from both movable and immovable assets, due to its low impact on the precious surfaces under analysis, and (g) one of the best sensors to detect explosives and chemical hazards in public spaces.
The project has been structured in five steps, four of technical nature and the fifth to produce materials for dissemination. Three complementary partners will develop it: university, research organisation and SME.