Photoacoustic spectroscopy for multi-gas sensing using near infrared lasers

Photoacoustic spectroscopy is a widely recognised technique to measure trace gases at parts-per-million (ppm) or parts-per-billion (ppb) level using semiconductor laser in the near infrared range. This technique is based on the generation of an acoustic wave in a gas excited by a modulated laser beam at a wavelength corresponding to a absorption line of the gas species, and on the detection of this sound using a sensitive microphone. Various sensors have been developed in the past decades in the field of atmospheric pollution monitoring, in the semiconductor industries, in medical applications and in life science applications. This work aims at presenting the development of a new sensor for multi-gas detection at sub-ppm level using distributed feedback (DFB) semiconductor lasers developed for the optical telecommunication market in the near infrared range. A novel resonant photoacoustic cell that consists in three resonators was designed and characterised. The sensor was developed to monitor up to three different gases for the monitoring of microclimatic parameters of living organisms and for the manufacturing of the next generation of optical fibres used in the optical telecommunication network application. The buffer gases used in these two applications are extremely different and have a very important impact on the calibration of the photoacoustic sensor. In particular, effects of the physical gas parameters on the photoacoustic signal are theoretically and experimentally compared. Relaxation effects related to these different buffer gases were observed in particular situations and gave rise to drastic changes in the photoacoustic response. A model is developed and quantitatively compared with experimental data. Finally, the sensitivity of the sensor is an important parameter, since many applications require detection limits down to ppb levels. The use of an Erbium-doped fibre amplifier made ammonia detection at concentration of 2.4 ppb possible. Ammonia monitoring with typical ambient concentration of water vapour and carbon dioxide at atmospheric pressure could be successfully achieved using an innovative approach.

Thévenaz, Luc
Lausanne, EPFL
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis3670-7

 Record created 2006-09-20, last modified 2018-05-01

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