The principles and implementation of an alternative approach to tunable diode-laser spectroscopy with wavelength modulation are described. This new technique uses the inherent phase shift between diode-laser power modulation and frequency modulation to separate the residual amplitude modulation and the first derivative signals recovered at the fundamental modulation frequency. The technique, through analysis of the residual-amplitude-modulation signal, is absolute, yielding gas-absorption-line-shape functions, concentrations, and pressures without the need for calibration under certain defined operating conditions. It offers the simplicity of signal analysis of direct detection while providing all the advantages of phase-sensitive electronic detection. Measurements of the 1650.96-nm rotation/vibration-absorption-line-shape function for 1% and 10% methane in nitrogen at various pressures are compared to theoretical predictions derived from HITRAN data, and the excellent agreement confirms the validity of the new technique. Further measurements of concentration and pressure confirm the efficacy of the technique for determining concentration in industrial-process environments where the pressure may be unknown and changing. An analysis of signal strength demonstrates that sensitivity comparable to that of conventional approaches is achievable. The new approach is simpler and more robust in coping with unknown pressure variations and drift in instrumentation parameters (such as laser characteristics) than the conventional approach. As such, it is better suited to stand-alone instrumentation for online deployment in industrial processes and is particularly useful in high-temperature applications, where the background infrared is strong.
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