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Gas detection in air using very sensitive laser methods

02.04.2015 | Aktualizacja: 02.04.2015 11:29

Prof. Krzysztof Abramski (phot. Krzysztof Mazur)

Researchers from Wrocław University of Technology and Princeton University have started a common project. “Our aim is to develop a new method of detecting trace gases in the atmosphere.” – explains Prof. Abramski from the Faculty of Electronics
They have recently received a grant of 1 200 000 PLN from the NCN (National Science Centre), as part of the HARMONIA competition. “This is fundamental research but it has a great practical potential.” – says Prof. Krzysztof Abramski, manager of the project.
Prof. Abramski explains that the work on detecting trace molecules in air has been carried out at Rice University (Houston) and Princeton University for years. “We have our people there.” – he laughs – “Gerard Wysocki, my former doctoral student, and now a professor, won a competition at Princeton for a research project on laser spectroscopy and has been working on it for a few years. Earlier, he worked at Rice University with the Frank Tittel’s superb research group. Also, other doctoral students (Karol Krzempek, Rafał Lewicki) and Master’s degree students from our University have worked at these two institutions in the last five years, and Michał Nikodem, DSc, went there for a two-year internship.
He explains that the aim of the project is to develop a new method of detecting gas molecules using the so-called photothermal effect, employing lasers. “If there is suspicion of presence of a particular gas in the air, we throw two laser beams on the area. One of them interacts with the gas and the other, which is not sensitive to it, detects changes effected by the former beam.” – explains Prof. Krzysztof Abramski. Already the first, elementary research gave promising results.
The equipment required to complete the project is available at Wrocław University of Technology. “For the experiments we will use our microlasers and laser fibres designed by us during work on previous projects, for example as part of a grant from European Space Agency (ESA). This will constitute a basis on which we are planning to build a complete laser system employing advanced electronics. Grzegorz Dudzik, DSc, and Jarosław Sotor, PhD, DSc, are responsible for this. Our aim is to achieve the highest possible sensitivity of gas molecules detection.”
Prof. Abramski’s team plans to present the initial results of their research already in March, during the MIRSENS conference in Würzburg dedicated to mid infrared.
Iwona Szajner
Translation: Dariusz Więcławski