Open-path spectroscopic methane detection using a broadband monolithic distributed feedback-quantum cascade laser array. Academic Article uri icon


  • Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that has both natural and anthropogenic sources. The ability to measure methane using an integrated path length approach such as an open/long-path length sensor would be beneficial in several environments for examining anthropogenic and natural sources, including tundra landscapes, rivers, lakes, landfills, estuaries, fracking sites, pipelines, and agricultural sites. Here a broadband monolithic distributed feedback-quantum cascade laser array was utilized as the source for an open-path methane sensor. Two telescopes were utilized for the launch (laser source) and receiver (detector) in a bistatic configuration for methane sensing across a 50 m path length. Direct-absorption spectroscopy was utilized with intrapulse tuning. Ambient methane levels were detectable, and an instrument precision of 70 ppb with 100 s averaging and 90 ppb with 10 s averaging was achieved. The sensor system was designed to work "off the grid" and utilizes batteries that are rechargeable with solar panels and wind turbines.

publication date

  • April 10, 2017