Ppb-level mid-infrared ethane detection based on three measurement schemes using a 3.34-μm continuous-wave interband cascade laser
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- Li, C., Zheng, C., Dong, L. et al. Appl. Phys. B (2016) 122: 185. doi:10.1007/s00340-016-6460-6
A ppb-level mid-infrared ethane (C2H6) sensor was developed using a continuous-wave, thermoelectrically cooled, distributed feedback interband cascade laser emitting at 3.34 μm and a miniature dense patterned multipass gas cell with a 54.6-m optical path length. The performance of the sensor was investigated using two different techniques based on the tunable interband cascade laser: direct absorption spectroscopy (DAS) and second-harmonic wavelength modulation spectroscopy (2f-WMS). Three measurement schemes, DAS, WMS and quasi-simultaneous DAS and WMS, were realized based on the same optical sensor core. A detection limit of ~7.92 ppbv with a precision of ±30 ppbv for the separate DAS scheme with an averaging time of 1 s and a detection limit of ~1.19 ppbv with a precision of about ±4 ppbv for the separate WMS scheme with a 4-s averaging time were achieved. An Allan–Werle variance analysis indicated that the precisions can be further improved to 777 pptv @ 166 s for the separate DAS scheme and 269 pptv @ 108 s for the WMS scheme, respectively. For the quasi-simultaneous DAS and WMS scheme, both the 2f signal and the direct absorption signal were simultaneously extracted using a LabVIEW platform, and four C2H6 samples (0, 30, 60 and 90 ppbv with nitrogen as the balance gas) were used as the target gases to assess the sensor performance. A detailed comparison of the three measurement schemes is reported. Atmospheric C2H6 measurements on the Rice University campus and a field test at a compressed natural gas station in Houston, TX, were conducted to evaluate the performance of the sensor system as a robust and reliable field-deployable sensor system.