Applied Physics B

, Volume 90, Issue 2, pp 301–309

New method for isotopic ratio measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide using a 4.3 μm pulsed quantum cascade laser

  • D.D. Nelson
  • J.B. McManus
  • S.C. Herndon
  • M.S. Zahniser
  • B. Tuzson
  • L. Emmenegger


We present a new approach to the measurement of stable isotopic ratios of carbon dioxide using a near-room-temperature pulsed quantum cascade laser and a spectral ratio method based upon dual multiple pass absorption cells. The spectral ratio method improves precision and accuracy by reducing sensitivity to variations in the laser tuning rate, power and line width. The laser is scanned across three spectral lines (near 2310 cm-1) quantifying three CO2 isotopologues: 12C16O2, 13C16O2 and 12C16O18O. Isotopic ratios are determined simultaneously with a precision of 0.2δ for each ratio with a one-second measurement. Signal averaging for 400 s improves the precision to better than 0.03δ for both isotopic ratios (13R and 18R). Long-term accuracy of 0.2 to 0.3δ is demonstrated with replicate measurements of the same sample over a one-month period. The fast time response of this instrument is suitable for eddy flux measurements.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • D.D. Nelson
    • 1
  • J.B. McManus
    • 1
  • S.C. Herndon
    • 1
  • M.S. Zahniser
    • 1
  • B. Tuzson
    • 2
  • L. Emmenegger
    • 2
  1. 1.Aerodyne Research, Inc.BillericaUSA
  2. 2.Laboratory for Air Pollution and Environmental TechnologyEMPA, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and ResearchDübendorfSwitzerland

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