Abstract

A photoacoustic (PA) sensor for fast and real-time gas sensing is demonstrated. The PA sensor is a stand-alone system controlled by a field-programmable gate array. The PA cell has been designed for flow noise immunity using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis. The aim of the CFD analysis was to investigate and minimize the influence of the gas distribution and flow noise on the PA signal. PA measurements were conducted at different flow rates by exciting molecular C–H stretch vibrational bands of hexane (C6H14) and decane (C10H22) molecules in clean air at 2950  cm1 (3.38 μm) with a custom-made mid-infrared interband cascade laser. We observe a (1σ, standard deviation) sensitivity of 0.4±0.1  ppb (nmol/mol) for hexane in clean air at flow rates up to 1.7 L/min, corresponding to a normalized noise equivalent absorption coefficient of 2.5×109  Wcm1  Hz1/2, demonstrating high sensitivity and fast real-time gas analysis. An Allan deviation analysis for decane shows that the detection limit at optimum integration time is 0.25 ppbV (nmol/mol).

© 2018 Optical Society of America

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