Evanescent wave gas sensing based on modulation spectroscopy: potential application to transcutaneous blood gas determination

In recent years, optical gas detectors based on a tunable diode laser absorption spectrometer has become more and more important for monitoring trace gases in atmospheric, medical, and industrial processes. In the medical field, blood gases, essentially pO2 and pCO2, are vital parameters for patient respiratory status monitoring. Typically, hypoxaemia or hypercapnia can be very harmful, especially for neonates, and requires continuous monitoring for rapid clinical intervention. Transcutaneous blood gases, permeating through the skin, can be continuously measured in patients by electrochemical sensors applied to the surface of the skin. These sensors suffer specific instability and must be re-calibrated. For this reason, the present thesis explores a new concept of gas sensors, applying light absorption at the surface of an integrated optics waveguide and using the advantages of a modulated spectroscopy technique for sensitivity and selectivity enhancement. In other words, the present thesis sets a mathematical model and demonstrates experimentally a new concept of evanescent wave gas sensing based on modulation spectroscopy. The field of application considered in this book is restricted to gas detection, however the concept can also be applied to the detection of liquids. In particular, we demonstrate the potential applicability of the concept to transcutaneous blood gas monitoring, and especially carbon dioxide monitoring. The system transfer function modelization of the concept includes carbon dioxide absorption spectrum in the near-infrared region (1.6µm), laser diode modulation spectroscopy assuming optical frequency modulation (FM) as well as intensity modulation (IM) induced by current modulation, and integrated optics sensor-head transmission. The modelization evidences that the silicon nitride technology has the advantage of: high evanescent wave sensitivity (8% for the selected TE mode), low propagation loss, possibility of strong curvatures for miniaturization and availability of fiberto- waveguide mode matching technique (taper). In the modelization, we evidence that the optimal waveguide length equals the inverse of the propagation loss which is mainly limited by the waveguide scattering. Also, we demonstrate that the implementation of a fiber-to-waveguide mode matching taper at both waveguide ends, drastically decreases the resonance limitation of the system resolution. Experimentally, the transfer function of the concept is validated and characterized based on a free-space modulation spectroscopy setup whose performance, in terms of second harmonic resolution, is first measured at 3.55 · 10-6 1/√Hz corresponding to 0.275 mmHg/√Hz CO2 partial pressure. In the chosen region of 200-400MHz of frequency modulation, we confirm that the 1/f-noise is negligible and the dominating amplifier noise can be approximated by the thermal noise. In the case of high insertion loss and short interaction length the interferometric noise (or etalon-effect) becomes the system resolution limitation. By the insertion of a prism coupled planar waveguide instead of the free-space cell, we demonstrate the concept of integrated optics evanescent wave sensing based on modulation spectroscopy. The system characterization is completed by the validation of the evanescent wave sensitivity in gas of about 8% for a laterally confined waveguide. The outlook of a transcutaneous blood gas monitoring instrument is also established. We first extrapolate the expected waveguide characteristics to show that a resolution of 1mmHg CO2 partial pressure can be reached in 4.5 to 12sec response-time. Then, the requirement of a maximal sensing area of 10mm diameter is at the origin of two geometries of sensor-head: a crossing spiral and a non-crossing double spiral. We verify experimentally a propagation loss as low as 0.5dB/cm and observe a stringent tolerance for light injection. The latter requires an integrated device for mode matching and pigtailing. After implementation of a taper at both waveguide ends, we demonstrate the drastic reduction of the total coupling loss. The carbon dioxide measurements reveal a relatively deep pattern on the second harmonic signal that tends to prove that polarization and resonances are coupled together most likely at the waveguide level. Applying nitrogen (N2) as reference gas, the pattern compensation results in the carbon dioxide signature measurement in direct detection only. The next generation, now in process, is a patented pigtailed non-crossing double-spiral sensor-head building the first step towards an industrial prototype. The waveguide miniaturization allows an interaction length longer than 21cm on a 3×3mm area. The improvement towards a high resolution system concerns the propagation loss and the coupling loss on the sensor-head, and concerns the polarization control or scrambling on the modulation spectroscopy setup. We finally conclude, following the demonstration on the planar waveguide and the extrapolation of the measured characteristics, that the concept of evanescent wave gas sensing based on modulation spectroscopy, can compensate the lack of sensitivity of an integrated optics sensor-head and can be applied in gas and liquid sensing. Moreover, based on the sensor-head developments and realistic improvements, we also conclude that the perspective of high resolution sensing system, and in particular for carbon dioxide determination, evidences the potential applicability of the concept to transcutaneous blood gas monitoring. This opens a new optical outlook of continuous and non-invasive blood gas monitoring, applied in medicine for patient respiratory status monitoring.

    Thèse École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, n° 2686 (2002)
    Section de microtechnique
    Faculté des sciences et techniques de l'ingénieur
    Institut d'imagerie et optique appliquée
    Jury: Patrick Eberhard, René Heideman, Olivier Parriaux, Philippe Robert, Roland Siegwart

    Public defense: 2002-12-13


    Record created on 2005-03-16, modified on 2016-08-08


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