Photoacoustic Spectrometer for Real-Time Dust Monitoring

Case ID:


The inhalation of airborne respirable crystalline silica (RCS) particulates is a recognized occupational hazard, with potentially severe health consequences including silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease. RCS exposure is particularly prevalent in industries and activities such as construction, mining, demolition, sandblasting, quarrying, ceramics production, foundries, stone cutting and countertop production, refractory brick manufacturing, tombstone creation, oil and gas operations, pottery work, fiberglass and glass manufacturing, and flint knapping. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established a permissible exposure limit (PEL) for employees at 50 µg/m3 of respirable crystalline silica, averaged over an 8-hour workday. Compliance with this standard is critical to ensure worker health and safety in these high-risk sectors.


To address the pressing need for real-time silica monitoring, a team of researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno, have developed an innovative technique. They leverage the power of a quantum cascade laser (QCL) in tandem with photoacoustic instrumentation to instantly detect and measure the mass concentration of respirable crystalline silica (RCS) dust. The existing prototype is specifically tailored to monitor levels of silica, coal dust, and kaolinite dust, making it highly relevant for mining settings.


  • Real-time RCS monitoring
  • No need for filter-based methods
  • Identification and correction of interferences from other dust species
  • Water vapor absorption for calibration checks
  • Applicability to both coal and non-coal mines, as well as other industry sectors with RCS exposure

Patent & Literature


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Ray Siripirom
Senior Licensing Associate
University of Nevada, Reno
W. Patrick Arnott
Sam Taylor
Pedro Nascimento
Karoly Kocsis