Abstract

We describe the design, construction, and initial performance evaluation of a high-repetition-rate cavity ringdown spectrometer. The spectrometer is based on the use of the Pound–Drever–Hall technique to lock the laser frequency to the maximum of a transmission fringe of the interferometer used as a sample cell. This results in continuous injection of light into the interferometer. The injection is repetitively interrupted with an acousto-optical modulator to generate ringdowns (exponential decays) at a typical rate of 10kHz. Averaging of these large numbers of fitted ringdown times allows us to attain a minimum detectable absorption of 1.43×1011cm1Hz12 short term and 9.0×1011cm1Hz12 long term. In addition, the spectrometer has a continuous tuning capability of 1cm1, which allows the use of standard linearization and frequency calibration techniques for the spectrum. To illustrate the operation and sensitivity of the spectrometer, part of the Q-branch of a weak acetylene overtone has been recorded.

© 2006 Optical Society of America

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