RED is a technique we have developed for stand-off detection of trace explosives using infrared (IR) photo-thermal imaging [1,2,3]. RED incorporates compact IR quantum cascade lasers tuned to strong characteristic absorption bands and may be used to illuminate explosives present as particles on a surface. An IR focal plane array is used to image the surface and detect any small increase in the thermal emission upon laser illumination. We have previously demonstrated the technique at several meters to 10’s of meters of stand-off distance indoors and in field tests [4,5], while operating the lasers below the eye-safe intensity limit (100 mWcm2) . Sensitivity to traces of explosives as small as a nanogram has been demonstrated. By varying the incident wavelength slightly, we can readily show selectivity between individual explosives such as TNT and RDX. Using a sequence of lasers at different wavelengths, we increase both sensitivity and selectivity. A complete detection protocol can be performed in a sub-second time domain. More recently, RED has been used to emphasize measurements with cooled detectors in addition to examining the utility of filtering the collected thermal emission signal which is rich in analyte-specific spectroscopic information. A next generation RED system and detection algorithm is being developed to take advantage of these more powerful features. This manuscript will include an overview of the approach and recent experimental results.