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Knight Optical Unmasks the Hidden Enemy: Optical Components That Detect & Protect Against Chemicals & Biohazards

3rd Jul 2020

Behind closed doors, there’s a whole world of protective technologies being used to detect chemicals and biohazards and safeguard the public from deadly leaks that could be detrimental to human health. In this article, Knight Optical  the leading supplier of metrology-tested, on-spec optical components – looks at some cases where its optics are currently being used for detection and protection applications.

To the general public, concerns surrounding a risk to health and the environment deriving from chemical accidents are usually non-existent. This care-free position is thanks to the ever-evolving technology of innovators who are continually exploring newfound methods of detecting dangerous substance leaks such as flammable gases, hazardous radiation and reactive chemicals. These devices are usually applied and heavily relied upon in high-risk environments, such as the  oil and gas industries

oil and gas detection safety

It’s not; however, just industrial sites that depend on these technologies. The truth is, these harmful emissions are ubiquitous and can be found in the most unexpected of places. Take; for example, the airport, where underground pipes are used to carry fuel to aircraft across airport runways. To ensure safe and efficient refueling, leak detection systems must be installed to both expose and locate issues. Another case is when filling up your car. Often situated in built-up residential areas, petrol stations store litres and litres of fuel that sit below ground. Here, a potential leak would be detrimental to the site and surrounding areas, meaning long-lasting sensor-based leak detection devices are also vital.

What Devices Are Used to Detect Chemicals & Biohazards?

Products on the marketplace include tightness monitoring systems that are used to identify leaks and recognise changes in pressure as well as sensor-based multi-gas detection devices to identify elements such as toxic and combustible gases and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) within industrial applications; for example. As well as an abundance of established devices available, there are also brand-new methods being explored – such as laser-based methods for detecting trace chemicals in the air1.

Temperature sensor IR filters

Thermal imaging is another form of technology that is commonly used for the detection of hazardous chemicals (in fact, in recent months the device has also been explored to identify fever detection amongst individuals amidst the coronavirus outbreak2). Known as thermography, this technology – powered by infrared (IR) cameras – allows a contactless form of monitoring temperature measurement, fire detection and liquid levels.

Here at Knight Optical, we supply a range of stock and custom-made optical components for use in chemical and biohazard detection devices. Whether it’s a sensor-based device used to detect multiple or single substances or a thermal imaging camera, our metrology-tested
, on-spec optical components are best-in-class for such potentially life-saving applications.

Below are a few examples of the optics we regularly supply for such applications:

What Optical Components Are Used for Chemical & Biohazard Detection?


Our wide-ranging portfolio of IR Filters are trusted amongst the chemical and biohazard community for their high quality and precision and are employed for use in the IR (from 1 to 20µm).

Interference Bandpass Filters are another optic that is widely specified across the industry. They are used to select spectral peaks of gases such as Carbon Monoxide (CO), Nitric Oxide (NO), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Hydrogen Chloride (HCl) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2).

To view our custom range of Interference Bandpass Filters, click here


Our Optical Windows are employed as protective components across a range of applications within the chemical  biohazard industry – regularly thermal imaging. Unquestionably, specification is dependent on the end application. As a result, we offer a variety of substrates suitable for a range of thermal imaging cameras like Germanium (Ge) , N-BK7 (or equivalent), IR Quartz ; plus, many more.

Here at Knight Optical, we understand that every project is different and there’s no one size fits all when it comes to optical specifications – particularly devices that require special protection against harmful elements. That’s why we offer our Optical and IR Windows   in both stock and varieties. What’s more, our Optical Coating portfolio is particularly advantageous for devices that are exposed to corrosive environments.

Click here to view our full range of coatings


In some cases, Lenses
are employed for gas detection applications. For example, our Singlet Lenses are typically employed in custom-manufactured substrates such as Germanium (Ge)   and Silicon (Si)  as well as Aspheric Lenses    for such uses.

Again, our Lenses are available from stock  or as custom-made components
for seamless integration with any application – regardless of requirements.

IR Optics

Of course, as brand-new ground-breaking innovations begin to surface, and engineers start to develop unexplored prototypes for detection, optical components are being specified in new ways. As such, our range of IR Optics  meets several criteria for a variety of applications.

gernamium optical components

Our IR Optical Component portfolio comprises the following (to name but a few):

To view our full range of IR Optics, please click here.

What Substrates Are Used for Chemical & Biohazard Detection?

As well as an array of popular optical components, we also offer a range of high-quality substrates for chemical and biohazard detection purposes, which include:

Germanium (Ge)

Perhaps one of the more sought-after materials in our portfolio, Germanium is known for its relatively hard, high-density properties and IR transmitting ability to block ultraviolet (UV) and visible wavelengths yet allow IR from 2µm.

With a broad range of Windows and Prisms available in stock and custom-made options, we can meet a diverse range of requirements to meet any project’s needs.

To learn more about our full range of Germanium Optical Components, please click here.

Silicon (Si)

Used for the manufacture of components such as Windows , Silicon is another material that’s commonly found within chemical and biohazard detection devices – and is one of the hardest optical substrates available for use in the NIR (1µm) to about 6µm.

To learn more about our Silicon Optical Components, please click here.

Why Choose Knight Optical for Your Chemical & Biohazard Application? 

Here at Knight Optical, we have been supplying a range of optical components for integration with detection and protection applications. Discerning engineers working on such devices rely on Knight Optical not only for the premium quality of our output and in-house state-of-the-art Metrology Laboratory and QA Department’s’s capabilities but also because – as well as a range of stock optics (available for next-day dispatch) – we also offer a sought-after made-to-measure service. When customers opt for custom-made optical components from Knight Optical, not only do they receive fit-for-purpose, project-specific optics, but they can also choose the optical coatings that will enhance their end device.

If you’re looking for premium-quality, bespoke optical components for your chemical and biohazard detection application, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of the Technical Sales Team today.