Nitrous oxide quartz-enhanced photoacoustic detection employing a broadband distributed-feedback quantum cascade laser array
Witinski, Mark F.
Tittel, Frank K.
We present a gas sensing system based on quartz-enhanced photoacoustic spectroscopy (QEPAS) employing a monolithic distributed-feedback quantum cascade laser (QCL) array operated in a pulsed mode as a light source. The array consists of 32 quantum cascade lasers emitting in a spectral range from 1190 cm−1 to 1340 cm−1. The optoacoustic detection module was composed of a custom quartz tuning fork with a prong spacing of 1 mm, coupled with two micro-resonator tubes to enhance the signal-to-noise ratio. The QEPAS sensor was validated by detecting the absorption of the P- and R-branches of nitrous oxide. The measurements were performed by switching the array QCLs in sequence while tuning their operating temperature to retrieve the fine structure of the two N2O branches. A sensor calibration was performed, demonstrating a linear responsivity for N2O:N2 concentrations from 1000 down to 200 parts-per-million. With a 10 s lock-in integration time, a detection sensitivity of less than 60 parts-per-billion was achieved permitting the monitoring of nitrous oxide at global atmospheric levels.