Standard Article

High-resolution Infrared Laser Spectroscopy and Gas Sensing Applications

  1. Markus W. Sigrist

Published Online: 15 SEP 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470749593.hrs046

Handbook of High-resolution Spectroscopy

Handbook of High-resolution Spectroscopy

How to Cite

Sigrist, M. W. 2011. High-resolution Infrared Laser Spectroscopy and Gas Sensing Applications. Handbook of High-resolution Spectroscopy. .

Author Information

  1. Institute for Quantum Electronics, Department of Physics, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2011


The acceptance and the success of laser-based trace gas sensing techniques crucially depend on the availability and performance of tunable laser sources combined with appropriate detection schemes. Near- and midinfrared sources (preferentially semiconductor and solid state lasers) are used today in various configurations with sensitive absorption detection methods (multipass, photoacoustic, and cavity ringdown arrangements). This article starts with a discussion of the approaches pursued to fulfill key requirements for gas sensors. In the main part, we present the challenges, performance, potential, and also limitations of laser-based sensors in various applications. The examples cover ambient air monitoring, industrial sensing, isotope ratio determination, breath analysis in medical diagnosis, and finally analysis of urine samples for doping tests. Besides multicomponent capability, impressive sensitivities down to the parts per trillion level (1 in 1012), high specificity which enables differentiation between diastereoisomers (e.g., between ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, even in urine samples) or between isotopes (14N15N16O and 15 N14 N16O, site selectivity), are dealt with. We describe both ground-based and airborne instruments for time-resolved measurements. Promising developments are expected to foster further progress of laser-based sensors and stimulate their application in new areas.


  • trace gas and vapor monitoring;
  • tunable midinfrared lasers;
  • ambient air monitoring;
  • industrial gas monitoring;
  • isotope ratio;
  • breath analysis;
  • doping agents