The need for a continuous monitor for environmentally important pollutants at realistic [parts-per-trillion (parts in 1012)] concentrations measured in real time (minutes) is widely recognized. We developed an instrument that is based on supersonic-jet expansion and cooling, followed by resonantly enhanced multiphoton ionization (REMPI) into a mass spectrometer. This approach furnishes the dual selectivity of narrow-band tuned laser absorption and mass analysis. We initiated a spectroscopic characterization of the jet’s collisional cooling behavior to optimize the instrument’s sensitivity and selectivity, made measurements of several aromatic compounds (including polychlorinated dioxins) by use of a one-color REMPI scheme, and demonstrated a two-color excitation scheme.
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