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Fourier-Transform Microwave Spectroscopy of Chemical-Warfare Agents and their Synthetic Precursors



Angela R. Hight Walker, R D. Suenram, A C. Samuels, J O. Jensen, D Woolard, W Wiebach


Fourier-transform microwave (FTMW) spectroscopy is an established technique for observing the rotational spectra of molecules and complexes in molecular beams. Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are adapting this measurement technology for applications in analytical chemistry. Presently, FTMW spectroscopy is being used to investigate chemical-warfare agents and their synthetic precursors. A FTMW spectroscopy facility has been established at a surety laboratory at Edgewood Research and Development and Engineering Center (ERDEC), where the capabilities exist for handling these deadly warfare agents. Here, the rotational spectra of Sarin, Soman and DF have been observed and assigned. Also, microwave spectroscopic studies of less toxic precursors such as pinacolyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, and thiodiglycol have been carried out at NIST. Tests will be undertaken to assess the potential of using FTMW spectroscopy for detecting trace amounts of chemical-warfare agents and precursors in air. A database of rotational transition frequencies is being compiled for use in conjunction with a FTMW spectrometer to unambiguously detect and monitor chemical weapons. The sensitivity and resolution of FTMW suggest that the technique may offer real-time, unequivocal identification of chemical-warfare agents at trace vapor concentrations in air.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings of the SPIE Meeting
Conference Dates
November 1, 1998
Conference Title
SPIE Meeting


chemical warfare agent, Fourier transform, microwave spectroscopy, monitor, nerve agent, rotational spectroscopy, Sarin, Soman


Hight, A. , Suenram, R. , Samuels, A. , Jensen, J. , Woolard, D. and Wiebach, W. (1999), Fourier-Transform Microwave Spectroscopy of Chemical-Warfare Agents and their Synthetic Precursors, Proceedings of the SPIE Meeting (Accessed May 19, 2024)


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Created January 18, 1999, Updated February 17, 2017