High-sensitivity detection of trace gases using dynamic photoacoustic spectroscopy
February 1, 2014
Lincoln Laboratory of Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a technique known as dynamic photoacoustic spectroscopy (DPAS) that could enable remote detection of trace gases via a field-portable laser-based system. A fielded DPAS system has the potential to enable rapid, early warning of airborne chemical threats. DPAS is a new form of photoacoustic spectroscopy that relies on a laser beam swept at the speed of sound to amplify an otherwise weak photoacoustic signal. We experimentally determine the sensitivity of this technique using trace quantities of SF6 gas. A clutter-limited sensitivity of ~100 ppt is estimated for an integration path of 0.43 m. Additionally, detection at ranges over 5 m using two different detection modalities is demonstrated: a parabolic microphone and a laser vibrometer. Its utility in detecting ammonia emanating from solid samples in an ambient environment is also demonstrated.