The performance characteristics of a new CH planar laser-induced fluorescence (PLIF) imaging system composed of a kHz-rate multimode-pumped optical parametric oscillator (OPO) and high-speed intensified CMOS camera are investigated in laminar and turbulent --air flames. A multi-channel Nd:YAG cluster that produces up to 225 mJ at 355 nm with multiple-pulse spacing of 100 μs (corresponding to 10 kHz) is used to pump an OPO to produce up to 6 mJ at 431 nm for direct excitation of the A-X (0, 0) band of the CH radical. Single-shot signal-to-noise ratios of and are recorded in laminar premixed flames relative to noise in the background and within the flame layer, respectively. The spatial resolution and image quality are sufficient to accurately measure the CH layer thickness of while imaging the detailed evolution of turbulent flame structures over a 20 mm span. Background interferences due to polycyclic-aromatic hydrocarbons and Rayleigh scattering are minimized and, along with signal linearity, allow semi-quantitative analysis of CH signals on a shot-to-shot basis. The effects of design features, such as cavity finesse and passive injection seeding, on conversion efficiency, stability, and linewidth of the OPO output are also discussed.
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