Posted: February 24, 2010

Video footage shows greenhouse gas plumes revealed by laser illumination

(Nanowerk News) Elliot Scientific showcases the novel remote sensing and imaging capabilities of the new Firefly-IR laser system by real-time visualisation of greenhouse gas plumes.
Elliot Scientific's YouTube channel presents video footage captured by scientists at the University of St. Andrews using M Squared Lasers' novel Firefly-IR laser to dramatically demonstrate the advanced capabilities of the Firefly-IR system in remote sensing, imaging and molecular spectroscopy.
In this demonstration, the Firefly-IR laser reveals the presence of a notorious greenhouse gas - in this case methane - by using the gas molecule's characteristic of absorbing specific infrared wavelengths. Firefly-IR's wide tuning range (in this case tuned to 3.35┬Ám), high-powered nanosecond pulses and high pulse repetition rate enabled the researchers to capture good quality video of the escaping gas cloud.
Elliot Scientific's video shows how methane, invisible to conventional video cameras under normal lighting conditions, cannot hide when the scene is illuminated by the Firefly-IR laser.
The Firefly-IR provides a unique blend of high brightness coverage of the near to mid-infrared wavelength regions and class-leading output power from a shoebox sized source, bringing new performance capabilities to a variety of scientific and industrial applications.
Applications include:
  • Spectroscopy and detection of greenhouse gases and hydrocarbons like CH4 & C2H6
  • Security - Characterisation and detection of explosives, drugs and bio-agents
  • Medical diagnostics: p.p.m. breath monitoring
  • Jet and combustion engine emissions reduction
  • Oil exploration
  • Molecular spectroscopy
  • Eye-safe illumination and IR countermeasures
  • Firefly's high power and low beam divergence allows it to 'see' further in these applications, while a high pulse repetition rate enables rapid data acquisition. Combining all three allows recovery of signals more easily from any background noise, making the Firefly-IR ideal for video-rate imaging - a highly desirable alternative to basic 'yes/no' detection of hazardous substances in safety and security applications.
    Firefly-IR is based on a novel intracavity OPO (optical parametric oscillator) design, integrated with a pulsed diode-pumped laser to offer wide tunability. A single Firefly-IR can cover the mid-IR wavelengths from ~ 2.4 to 4.7 microns, accessing the absorption features of many different molecular species.
    The design also has major performance benefits, such as highly efficient conversion of the nanosecond pump pulses to the mid-IR and an extremely rugged and compact optical head. These features combine to offer cost and space savings for the user, and significant advantages in spectroscopy, sensing and detection applications.
    Standard and customised Firefly-IR systems manufactured by M Squared Lasers are available through Elliot Scientific Ltd. in the UK and Europe.
    Source: Elliot Scientific