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Challenging Measurement of OH Radicals in the Atmosphere Achieved

Challenging Measurement of OH Radicals in the Atmosphere Achieved

Challenging Measurement of OH Radicals in the Atmosphere Achieved

Challenging Measurement of OH Radicals in the Atmosphere Achieved

Schematic diagram of optical-feedback cavity-enhanced absorption spectroscopy system. Credit: YANG Nana
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Recently, based on optical-feedback cavity-enhanced absorption spectroscopy (OF-CEAS) technology, a research team led by Prof. ZHANG Weijun from Hefei Institutes of Physical Science (HFIPS), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) successfully detected OH radicals at 2.8 μm wavelength with a distributed feedback (DFB) diode laser.

The results have been published in Optics Express.

OH free radicals are the most important oxidant in the atmosphere. The rapid circulation reaction determines the production and removal of the main pollutants in the atmosphere. The accurate measurements for OH radicals are very difficult due to their characteristics of the high reaction activity, short life, and low concentration in the atmosphere. It is important and challenging research in the field of atmospheric chemistry today.

"This research provides a new direct detection method for OH radicals," said YANG Nana, first author of the paper.

She further explained the OF-CEAS technology. OF-CEAS used the resonant light of the cavity to feed back to the laser, which could effectively narrow the laser linewidth. Besides, it could achieve optical self-locking to improve the coupling efficiency of the laser and the cavity and achieve high-sensitivity detection.

In this research, the team used the wavelength modulation method to control the optical phase. They used the 1f signal of the cavity mode demodulated by the lock-in amplifier as an error signal and sent it to the Proportional integral differential servo controller to control the distance from the laser to the cavity. The system, therefore, achieved real-time phase locking. The detection sensitivity was 1.7×10-9 cm-1 with an effective pathlength of 800 m corresponding to the detection limit of ~2×108 molecule/cm3 for OH radicals.

Combined with Faraday Rotation Spectroscopy (FRS) and Frequency Modulation Spectroscopy (FMS), OF-CEAS can provide a new and higher sensitivity approach for direct detection of atmospheric OH radicals.

Reference: Yang N, Yang N, Fang B, et al. Optical-feedback cavity-enhanced absorption spectroscopy for OH radical detection at 2.8 µm using a DFB diode laser. Opt Express. 2022;30(9):15238-15249. doi: 10.1364/OE.456648


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