Starting from Quartz-Enhanced Photo-Acoustic Spectroscopy (QEPAS), we have explored the potential of a tightly linked method of gas/vapor sensing, from now on referred to as Tuning-Fork-Enhanced Photo-Acoustic Spectroscopy (TFEPAS). TFEPAS utilizes a non-piezoelectric metal or dielectric tuning fork to transduce the photoacoustic excitation and an optical interferometric readout to measure the amplitude of the tuning fork vibration. In particular, we have devised a solution based on Additive Manufacturing (AM) for the Absorption Detection Module (ADM). The novelty of our solution is that the ADM is entirely built monolithically by Micro-Metal Laser Sintering (MMLS) or other AM techniques to achieve easier and more cost-effective customization, extreme miniaturization of internal volumes, automatic alignment of the tuning fork with the acoustic micro-resonators, and operation at high temperature. This paper reports on preliminary experimental results achieved with ammonia at parts-per-million concentration in nitrogen to demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed solution. Prospectively, the proposed TFEPAS solution appears particularly suited for hyphenation to micro-Gas Chromatography and for the analysis of complex solid and liquid traces samples, including compounds with low volatility such as illicit drugs, explosives, and persistent chemical warfare agents.
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