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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A sparse semi-blind source identification method and its application to Raman spectroscopy for explosives detection


Rapid and reliable detection and identification of unknown chemical substances are critical to homeland security. It is challenging to identify chemical components from a wide range of explosives. There are two key steps involved. One is a non-destructive and informative spectroscopic technique for data acquisition. The other is an associated library of reference features along with a computational method for feature matching and meaningful detection within or beyond the library. In this paper, we develop a new iterative method to identify unknown substances from mixture samples of Raman spectroscopy. In the first step, a constrained least squares method decomposes the data into a sum of linear combination of the known components and a non-negative residual. In the second step, a sparse and convex blind source separation method extracts components geometrically from the residuals. Verification based on the library templates or expert knowledge helps to confirm these components. If necessary, the confirmed meaningful components are fed back into step one to refine the residual and then step two extracts possibly more hidden components. The two steps may be iterated until no more components can be identified. We illustrate the proposed method in processing a set of the so called swept wavelength optical resonant Raman spectroscopy experimental data by a satisfactory blind extraction of a priori unknown chemical explosives from mixture samples. We also test the method on nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectra for chemical compounds identification. © 2013 Published by Elsevier B.V.

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