Abstract

A novel instrument that is capable of taking spectral extinction measurements over long optical paths (approximately 1–100 m) in the UV, visible, and IR ranges is described. The instrument is fully automated, and the extinction spectrum is acquired in almost real time (approximately 5–10 s) with a resolution of ∼3 nm. Its sensitivity and accuracy were estimated by tests carried out in a clean room that showed that, for optical paths between 50 and 100 m, the extinction coefficient can be detected at levels of ∼10-5 m-1. Tests carried out on calibrated latex particles showed that, when it was combined with an appropriate inversion method, the technique could be profitably applied to characterize airborne particulate distributions. By carrying out measurements over optical paths of ∼100 m, the instrument is also capable of detecting extinction coefficients that are due to aerosol concentrations well below the limits imposed by the European Economic Community for atmospheric pollution (150 µg/m3). Scaled over optical paths of ∼10 m, the limit imposed for particle emissions from industrial plants (10 mg/m3) can also be detected sensitively.

© 2001 Optical Society of America

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