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J Biomed Opt. 2013 Oct;18(10):107002. doi: 10.1117/1.JBO.18.10.107002.

Optical parametric oscillator-based photoacoustic detection of hydrogen cyanide for biomedical applications.

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  • 1Radboud University Nijmegen, Life Science Trace Gas Research Group, Molecular and Laser Physics, Institute for Molecules and Materials, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


A versatile, continuous wave, optical parametric oscillator is used in combination with photoacoustic spectroscopy for long-term trace gas experiments of volatile compounds emitted by biological samples. The optical parametric oscillator-based spectrometer (wavelength near 3 μm, 8-MHz linewidth, output power ∼1 W) is successfully tested for the detection of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) emission from clover leaves, and Pseudomonas bacteria; in addition, the presence of HCN in exhaled human breath is measured. For specific experiments, the spectrometer is operated continuously up to 10 days and has a detection limit of 0.4 parts-per-billion volume of HCN in air over 10 s, using the P8 rotational line in the ν₃ vibrational band of HCN at 3287.25 cm⁻¹. This results in an overall sensitivity of the system of 2.5 × 10⁻⁹ cm-1 Hz⁻¹/².

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