Abstract

Efficient time-resolved coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS) of atmospheric nitrogen and ethanol trapped in a nanoporous silica aerogel matrix is demonstrated. Silica aerogel hosts are attractive for analytical CARS spectroscopy due to their high porosity/low density, low refractive index, and low scattering cross-section. Differences between the resonant and nonresonant parts of the nonlinear optical susceptibilities lead to much longer relaxation times for analytes compared to the matrix. Time-resolved CARS can then be used to obtain a nearly background-free measurement at characteristic vibrations of the analyte. These results demonstrate the potential of this approach for rapid, sensitive, background-free analyses of analytes entrapped in the aerogel pores, which may be advantageous for some environmental, chemical, and biological sensing applications.

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