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Anal Chem. 2005 Jan 15;77(2):724-8.

Detection of nitrogen dioxide by cavity attenuated phase shift spectroscopy.

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Center for Sensor Systems and Technology, Aerodyne Research, Inc., 45 Manning Road, Billerica, Massachusetts 01821-3976, USA.


We present initial results obtained from an optical absorption sensor for the monitoring of ambient atmospheric nitrogen dioxide concentrations (0-200 ppb). This sensor utilizes cavity attenuated phase shift spectroscopy, a technology related to cavity ringdown spectroscopy. A modulated broadband incoherent light source (a 430-nm LED) is coupled to an optically resonant cavity formed by two high-reflectivity mirrors. The presence of NO(2) in the cell causes a phase shift in the signal received by a photodetector that is proportional to the NO(2) concentration. The sensor, which employed a 0.5-m cell, was shown to have a sensitivity of 0.3 ppb in the photon (shot) noise limit. Improvements in the optical coupling of the LED to the resonant cavity would allow the sensor to reach this limit with integration times of 10 s or less (corresponding to a noise equivalent absorption coefficient of <1 x 10(-8) cm(-1) Hz(-1/2)). Over a 2-day-long period of ambient atmospheric monitoring, a comparison of the sensor with an extremely accurate and precise tunable diode laser-based absorption spectrometer showed that the CAPS-based instrument was able to reliably and quantitatively measure both large and small fluctuations in the ambient nitrogen dioxide concentration.

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