Development of an ultrasensitive cavity ring down spectrometer in the 2.10-2.35 µm region : application to water vapor and carbon dioxide

Abstract : A cavity ring down spectrometer has been developed in the 2.00-2.35 µm spectral range to achieve highly sensitive absorption spectroscopy of molecules of atmospheric and planetologic interest and at high spectral resolution. This spectral region corresponds to a transparency window for water vapor and carbon dioxide. Atmospheric windows, where absorption is weak, are used to sound the Earth’s and Venus’ atmospheres where water vapor and carbon dioxide represent the main gaseous absorbers in the infrared, respectively.The CRDS technique consists of injecting photons inside a high finesse optical cavity and measuring the photon’s life time of this cavity. This life-time depends on the mirror reflectivity and on the intra-cavity losses due to the absorbing gas in the cavity. Measuring these losses versus the wavelength allow obtaining the absorption spectrum of the gas. The extreme reflectivity of the mirrors allows reaching, for a 1-meter long cavity, a sensitivity equivalent to the one obtained classically with absorption cells of several thousands of kilometers.Three DFB laser diodes emitting around 2.35, 2.26, 2.21 µm were used with this spectrometer giving access to the 4249-4257, 4422-4442 and 4516-4534 cm-1 interval, respectively. Thanks to optical feedback from an external cavity, two of these diodes were spectrally narrowed leading to a better injection of the high finesse cavity thus reducing the noise level of the spectrometer. In parallel, we tested a VECSEL (Vertical-external-Cavity, Surface Emitting laser) through a collaboration with the Institu d’Electronique (IES, UMR 5214) in Montpellier and the Innoptics firm. This laser source is able to cover a 80 cm-1 spectral range centered at 4340 cm-1, equivalent to four DFB laser diodes. In routine the achieved sensitivity with this spectrometer, corresponding to the minimum detectable coefficient is typically of 1×10-10 cm-1. The introductive chapter (Chapter 1) makes the point on the different techniques allowing absorption spectra recordings in the studied spectral region and on their sensitivity. The experimental set-up, the characteristics and performances by the CRD spectrometer developed in this work are detailed in Chapter 2. To our knowledge this instrument is the most sensitive in the considered spectral region.In Chapter 3, detection of quadrupolar electric transitions of HD and N2 illustrate the level of sensitivity reached: (i) the S(3) transition in the 1-0 band of HD has been recorded for the first time and its intensity measured (S=2.5×10-27 cm/molecule), (ii) the position and intensity of the highly forbidden O(14) quadrupolar electric transition of the 2-0 band of N2 have also been newly determined.The two last chapters are devoted to the characterization of the CO2 absorption, in the centre of the transparency window, and of the water vapor absorption. In both cases, we not only studied the allowed transitions of the monomer, but also the continuum absorption. This latter correspond to a weak background absorption varying slowly with the wave length. The self-continuum cross-sections of the water vapor continuum were measured in many spectral points through the transparency window with a much better accuracy compared to existing measurements. These CRDS data constitute a valuable data set to validate the reference model (MT_CKD) for the continuum which is implemented in most of the atmospheric radiative transfer codes.
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Semen Vasilchenko. Development of an ultrasensitive cavity ring down spectrometer in the 2.10-2.35 µm region : application to water vapor and carbon dioxide. Instrumentation and Detectors [physics.ins-det]. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017GREAY037⟩. ⟨tel-01704680⟩

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