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Real-time trace gas sensor using a multimode diode laser and multiple-line integrated cavity enhanced absorption spectroscopy

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Abstract

We describe and demonstrate a highly sensitive trace gas sensor based on a simplified design that is capable of measuring sub-ppb concentrations of NO2 in tens of milliseconds. The sensor makes use of a relatively inexpensive Fabry–Perot diode laser to conduct off-axis cavity enhanced spectroscopy. The broad frequency range of a multimode Fabry–Perot diode laser spans a large number of absorption lines, thereby removing the need for a single-frequency tunable laser source. The use of cavity enhanced absorption spectroscopy enhances the sensitivity of the sensor by providing a pathlength on the order of 1 km in a small volume. Off-axis alignment excites a large number of cavity modes simultaneously, thereby reducing the sensor’s susceptibility to vibration. Multiple-line integrated absorption spectroscopy (where one integrates the absorption spectra over a large number of rovibronic transitions of the molecular species) further improves the sensitivity of detection. Relatively high laser power (400mW) is used to compensate for the low coupling efficiency of a broad linewidth laser to the optical cavity. The approach was demonstrated using a 407 nm diode laser to detect trace quantities of NO2 in zero air. Sensitivities of 750 ppt, 110 ppt, and 65 ppt were achieved using integration times of 50 ms, 5 s, and 20 s respectively.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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