Terrorists both with IEDs and suicide bombers are targeting civilian infrastructures such as transportation systems. Although explosive detection technologies exist and are used effectively in aviation, these technologies do not lend themselves well to protecting open architecture soft targets, as they are focused on a checkpoint form factor that limits throughput. However, remote detection of explosives and other chemicals would enable these kinds of targets to be protected without interrupting the flow of commerce. Tunable mid-IR laser technology offers the opportunity to detect explosives and other chemicals remotely and quickly. Most chemical compounds, including explosives, have their fundamental vibrational modes in the mid-infrared region (3 to 15μm). There are a variety of techniques that focus on examining interactions that have proven effective in the laboratory but could never work in the field due to complexity, size, reliability and cost. Daylight Solutions has solved these problems by integrating quantum cascade gain media into external tunable cavities. This has resulted in miniaturized, broadly tunable mid-IR laser sources. The laser sources have a capability to tune to +/- 5% of their center wavelength, which means they can sweep through an entire absorption spectrum to ensure very good detection and false alarm performance compared with fixed wavelength devices. These devices are also highly portable, operate at room temperature, and generate 10's to 100's of mW in optical power, in pulsed and continuous wave configurations. Daylight Solutions is in the process of developing a variety of standoff explosive and chemical weapon detection systems using this technology.© (2007) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.