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Optica Publishing Group
  • Applied Spectroscopy
  • Vol. 74,
  • Issue 4,
  • pp. 485-493
  • (2020)

Sensitivity-Enhanced Fourier Transform Mid-Infrared Spectroscopy Using a Supercontinuum Laser Source

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Abstract

Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectrometers have been the dominant technology in the field of mid-infrared (mid-IR) spectroscopy for decades. Supercontinuum laser sources operating in the mid-IR spectral region now offer the potential to enrich the field of FT-IR spectroscopy due to their distinctive properties, such as high-brightness, broadband spectral coverage and enhanced stability. In our contribution, we introduce this advanced light source as a replacement for conventional thermal emitters. Furthermore, an approach to efficient coupling of pulsed mid-IR supercontinuum sources to FT-IR spectrometers is proposed and considered in detail. The experimental part is devoted to pulse-to-pulse energy fluctuations of the applied supercontinuum laser, performance of the system, as well as the noise and long-term stability. Comparative measurements performed with a conventional FT-IR instrument equipped with a thermal emitter illustrate that similar noise levels can be achieved with the supercontinuum-based system. The analytical performance of the supercontinuum-based FT-IR spectrometer was tested for a concentration series of aqueous formaldehyde solutions in a liquid flow cell (500 µm path length) and compared with the conventional FT-IR (130 µm path length). The results show a four-times-enhanced detection limit due to the extended path length enabled by the high brightness of the laser. In conclusion, FT-IR spectrometers equipped with novel broadband mid-IR supercontinuum lasers could outperform traditional systems providing superior performance, e.g., interaction path lengths formerly unattainable, while maintaining low noise levels known from highly stable thermal emitters.

© 2020 The Author(s)

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