, Volume 94, Issue 4, pp 673-680
Date: 13 Feb 2009

Theoretical analysis of a quartz-enhanced photoacoustic spectroscopy sensor

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Abstract

Quartz-enhanced photoacoustic spectroscopy (QEPAS) sensors are based on a recent approach to photoacoustic detection which employs a quartz tuning fork as an acoustic transducer. These sensors enable detection of trace gases for air quality monitoring, industrial process control, and medical diagnostics. To detect a trace gas, modulated laser radiation is directed between the tines of a tuning fork. The optical energy absorbed by the gas results in a periodic thermal expansion which gives rise to a weak acoustic pressure wave. This pressure wave excites a resonant vibration of the tuning fork thereby generating an electrical signal via the piezoelectric effect. This paper describes a theoretical model of a QEPAS sensor. By deriving analytical solutions for the partial differential equations in the model, we obtain a formula for the piezoelectric current in terms of the optical, mechanical, and electrical parameters of the system. We use the model to calculate the optimal position of the laser beam with respect to the tuning fork and the phase of the piezoelectric current. We also show that a QEPAS transducer with a particular 32.8 kHz tuning fork is 2–3 times as sensitive as one with a 4.25 kHz tuning fork. These simulation results closely match experimental data.