Abstract

A high-resolution cavity ring-down spectroscopic (CRDS) system based on a continuous wave (cw) mode-hop-free (MHF) external-cavity quantum cascade laser (EC-QCL) operating at λ5.2μm has been developed for ultrasensitive detection of nitric oxide (NO). We report the performance of the high-resolution EC-QCL based cw-CRDS instrument by measuring the rotationally resolved Λ-doublet e and f components of the P(7.5) line in the fundamental band of NO at 1850.169cm1 and 1850.179cm1. A noise-equivalent absorption coefficient of 1.01×109cm1Hz1/2 was achieved based on an empty cavity ring-down time of τ0=5.6μs and standard deviation of 0.11% with averaging of six ring-down time determinations. The CRDS sensor demonstrates the advantages of measuring parts per billion NO concentrations in N2, as well as in human breath samples with ultrahigh sensitivity and specificity. The CRDS system could also be generalized to measure simultaneously many other trace molecular species within the broad tuning range of cw EC-QCL, as well as for studying the rotationally resolved hyperfine structures.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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