Abstract

It is well known that clutter (spectral interference) from atmospheric constituents can be a severe limit for spectroscopic point sensors, especially where high sensitivity and specificity are required. In this paper, we will show for submillimeter/terahertz (SMM/THz) sensors that use cw electronic techniques the clutter limit for the detection of common target gases with absolute specificity (probability of false alarm 1010) is in the ppt (1 part in 1012) range or lower. This is because the most abundant atmospheric gases are either transparent to SMM/THz radiation (e.g., CO2) or have spectra that are very sparse relative to the 105 Doppler-limited resolution elements available (e.g., H2O). Moreover, the low clutter limit demonstrated for cw electronic systems in the SMM/THz is independent of system size and complexity.

© 2011 Optical Society of America

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