Fuentek's Tech Transfer Blog

Optical System and Method for Gas Detection and Monitoring

Researchers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center have developed and patented a low-cost, low-power method to monitor and detect gas leaks in vacuum or pressurized systems. The technology monitors for leaks of multiple types of gases up to ten million times per second and pinpoints the location of the leak. Prototype systems were successfully tested in environments over a pressure range of 20 mtorr to 760 mtorr.

Developed to detect and quantify slow leaks on a spacecraft, the technology has been designed to be safely used in hazardous and explosive environments. Its fiber optic system allows all electrical components to be located away from potentially dangerous leak sources. The detection sensors are approximately 1″ x 1/2″ x 1/4″, allowing them to be placed in tight spaces.


  • Rugged and safe – The technology was designed to be used in hazardous and explosive environments.
  • Sensitive – It offers sensor resolution down to 10 mtorr (13 micro-atmospheres).
  • Low cost – The technology costs about the same as low-cost electronic leak detection systems.
  • High speed – The technology is time accurate down to 10 ns.
  • Low power – System power is on the order of 100 mW per detector.
  • Miniaturized – System is the size of a deck of cards, detection sensors are approximately 1″ x 1/2″ x 1/4″.
  • Versatile – The technology may operate in vacuum and high-pressure environments.

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