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Anal Chem. 1996 Jul 1;68(13):2264-9.

Characterization of an erbium-doped fiber amplifier as a light source and development of a near-infrared spectrophotometer based on the EDFA and an acoustooptic tunable filter.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201, USA.


A novel light source for the near-infrared region which has the highest intensity and widest spectral bandwidth of all near-IR light sources has been developed. The system is based on a single-mode fiber (about 18 m long) doped with Er3+ ion. The doped ion produces amplified spontaneous emission (ASE) in the near-IR region (from 1500 to 1600 nm) when it is excited by a diode laser at 980 nm. Because the diode laser is fusion-spliced directly to the doped fiber, the system is compact, all-solid-state, reliable, and stable and requires little maintenance. Its ASE output intensity was found to be comparable with those of diode lasers currently available for this near-IR region and is much higher than those of conventional halogen-tungsten lamps and the so-called (high-intensity) superluminescent light emitting diodes (SLEDs). Its spectral bandwidth is, however, much wider than those of the diode lasers and the SLEDs. Even higher intensity can be obtained from the doped fiber when a low-intensity (1 mW) light from a 1550-nm laser diode is introduced into the doped fiber. The intensity is enhanced (up to 7 times compared to the ASE) because the input light is amplified by the doped fiber. Furthermore, the output intensity of this erbium-doped fiber amplifier (EDFA) can be appropriately adjusted to provide relatively higher output intensity at any range of wavelengths (within this 1500-1600-nm region) by simply changing the temperature and/or the driven current of the input diode laser. Subsequently, an acoustooptic tunable filter was used to provide a means to spectrally tune the EDFA rapidly and to develop an all-solid-state, compact near-IR spectrophotometer which not only is very sensitive, stable, and reliable but also has a very high throughput. This spectrophotometer can detect water in ethanol at a limit of detection of 10 ppm. More importantly, the high through-put makes it possible to use the instrument to measure spectra of highly absorbing samples (e.g., absorption spectrum of 1.0 M Pr3+ aqueous solution through four sheets of paper); measurements which are currently not possible with halogen-tungsten lamp-based spectrophotometers.

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