Application of the FMCW method to quasi-distributed absorption sensors
We report on different addressing mechanisms for quasi-distributed absorption sensors based on the frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) method. The sensor units consist of open-path micro-optic cells constructed from GRIN lenses, each of differing lengths. Guided by initial simulations, two approaches are experimentally investigated and evaluated, namely reference arm addressing and coherence addressing. Reference arm addressing is accomplished by the selection of different length reference arms in a Michelson configuration where each reference arm corresponds to a certain sensing unit. Coherence addressing is achieved by the interferometric mixing of two signals originating from each cell (from the glass/air interfaces). For each method, we show theoretically and experimentally how individual cells can be addressed and the measured signals obtained by suitable choice of cell length, proper modulation of the source and appropriate signal processing. In order to improve sensitivity we present the theoretical analysis of a new scheme based on combining the (FMCW) technique with frequency modulation spectroscopy (FMS). Here we arrange for only one sideband of the rf-modulation to be attenuated by the absorption feature and a new signal, proportional to the absorbance, appears in the output spectrum at a frequency corresponding to the difference between the rf-modulation frequency and the beat frequency of a cell. The method is highly sensitive and applicable to a variety of chemical species with narrow absorption lines, such as in trace gas analysis. We present the mathematical analysis of the proposed method for single and multiple cell systems, using methane detection as an example.