Simultaneous atmospheric nitrous oxide, methane and water vapor detection with a single continuous wave quantum cascade laser
Sanchez, Nancy P.
Griffin, Robert J.
Hughes, Lawrence C.
Tittel, Frank K.
A continuous wave (CW) quantum cascade laser (QCL) based absorption sensor system was demonstrated and developed for simultaneous detection of atmospheric nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4), and water vapor (H2O). A 7.73-µm CW QCL with its wavelength scanned over a spectral range of 1296.9-1297.6 cm−1 was used to simultaneously target three neighboring strong absorption lines, N2O at 1297.05 cm−1, CH4 at 1297.486 cm−1, and H2O at 1297.184 cm−1. An astigmatic multipass Herriott cell with a 76-m path length was utilized for laser based gas absorption spectroscopy at an optimum pressure of 100 Torr. Wavelength modulation and second harmonic detection was employed for data processing. Minimum detection limits (MDLs) of 1.7 ppb for N2O, 8.5 ppb for CH4, and 11 ppm for H2O were achieved with a 2-s integration time for individual gas detection. This single QCL based multi-gas detection system possesses applications in environmental monitoring and breath analysis.