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Laser excess noise and interferometric effects in frequency-modulated diode-laser spectrometers

: Werle, P.

Applied Physics. B 60 (1995), S.499-506 : Ill., Lit.
ISSN: 0340-3793
ISSN: 0721-7269
ISSN: 0946-2171
ISSN: 1432-0649
Fraunhofer IFU; 2002 in Helmholtz-Gesellschaft integriert

Tunable Diode-Laser Absorption Spectroscopy (TDLAS) is increasingly being used to measure trace-gas concentrations down to low part-per-billion levels (1 ppbv = 10(exp -9) volume mixing ratio). Semiconductor lead-salt diode lasers give access to the mid-infrared spectral region and the application of high-Frequency Modulation (FM) schemes can further improve the sensitivity and detection speed of modern instrumentation. Several factors influence or even limit spectrometer performance. The central elements in such spectrometers are lead-salt diode lasers. Experimental data will be presented, which demonstrate that high-frequency excess-noise contributions above several MHz can be attributed to mode hopping and mode partition noise during multimode laser operation. Additionally it will be discussed how a FM-TDLAS spectrometer can be interpreted as an optimized Michelson interferometer for absolute distance measurements and, therefore, is extremely sensitive towards drift effects. The hig her the modulation frequency, the higher is the drift sensitivity of the spectrometer due to interferometric effects. These drift effects are a second factor affecting ultrasensitive measurements. While wideband-laser noise characteristics call for high modulation frequencies, the aforementioned interferometric effects in the spectrometer require low modulation frequencies.