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Results of our on-going development of biological warfare agents (BWA) detection systems based on spectral detection of ultraviolet (UV) laser induced fluorescence (LIF) are presented. A compact optical parametric oscillator (OPO) with intracavity sum-frequency mixing (SFM) to generate 293 nm UV laser irradiation was developed. The OPO/SFM device was pumped by a diode-pumped Nd:YAG laser (1064 nm), including subsequent second-harmonic generation (SHG) in an external periodically poled KTiOPO4 (PPKTP) crystal. The laser generated 1.8 ns pulses at 100 Hz with an average power of 44 mW at 532 nm. The whole system could be used to deliver approximately 30 μJ laser irradiation per pulse (100 Hz) at 293 nm. The spectral detection part of the system consists of a grating and a photomultiplier tube (PMT) array with 32 channels, which can measure fluorescence spectra in the wavelength band from 250 nm to 800 nm. The detector system was designed along with a trigger laser to enable measurement of fluorescence spectra from an individual aerosol particle of simulants for BWA upon excitation with a single nanosecond laser pulse. We demonstrate the successful detection and spectral characterization of simulants for BWA, i.e., Bacillus atrophaeus (BG), Bacillus thuringiensis (BT), and Ovalbumin (OA).
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