Gas detection by use of Sagnac interferometer

McConnell, Sean R. (2008) Gas detection by use of Sagnac interferometer. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Gas composition and analysis forms a large field of research whose requirements demand that measurement equipment be as affordable, uncomplicated and convenient as possible. The precise quantitative composition of an atmospheric, industrial or chemically synthesised sample of gas is of utmost importance when inferring the properties and nature of the environment from which the sample was taken, or for inferring how a prepared sample will react in its application. The most popular and widely used technique to achieve this is Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) and, without a doubt, this technique has set the standard for gas analysis. Despite the accuracy of the GCMS technique, the equipment itself is bulky, expensive and cannot be applied readily to field work. Instead, most field work is conducted using a single gas detector, capable only of detecting one particular molecule or element at a time. Presented here is an interferometric technique that theoretically, has the ability to address all three issues of bulkiness, affordability and convenience, whilst not being limited to one particular element or molecule in its analysis. Identifying the unknown constituents of a gaseous mixture using the proposed method, employs the optical refractive properties of the mixture to determine its composition. A key aspect of this technique is that the refractive index of an arbitrary mixture of gases will vary depending on pressure and wavelength1. The Lorentz-Lorenz formula and the Sellmeier equations form the foundation of the theoretical background. The optical refractive properties of air and other atmospheric gases have been well established in the literature. The experimental investigations described here have been conducted based on this, insofar as no analysis has been conducted on gases that do not naturally occur in reasonable abundance in the atmosphere. However this does not in any way preclude the results and procedure developed from applying to a synthesised gas mixture. As mentioned, the platform of this technique relies on the pressure and wavelength dependence of the refractivity of the gas. The pressure dependence of the system is easily accounted for, in making this claim however it is still imperative the mixture be impervious to contamination from the wider atmosphere. Wavelength dependence however is perhaps slightly more difficult to accommodate. Multiple lasers, of differing wavelength form the radiative sources which underpin the method developed. Laser sources were chosen because of their coherence, making it easy to produce interference, when combined with the inherent stability of the Sagnac interferometer, provides for a very user friendly system that is able to quickly take results. The other key part of the experimental apparatus is the gas handling system, the gas(es) of interest need to be contained within an optical medium in the path of one of the beams of the interferometer. Precise manipulation of the pressure of the gas is critical in determining concentration, this has been achieved through the use of a gas syringe whose plunger is moved on a finely threaded screw, and measured on a digital manometer. The optical setup has also been explored, specifically in ruling out the use of such radiative sources as passing an incandescent source through a monochromator or the use of LED's to produce interference before settling on lasers to produce the required interference. Finally, a comprehensive theoretical background has been presented using classical electromagnetic theory as well as confirmation from a quantum perspective. The theoretical background for this study relies upon the Lorentz-Lorenz formula. It is commonly presented either from a classical or quantum perspective, in this work both classical and quantum mechanical treatments are given whilst also showing how each confirms the other. Furthermore, a thorough investigation into the dispersion functions of each of the major components of the atmosphere has been compiled from the study of refractivity on individual gases from other authors, in some cases, where no work has been done previously, this has been derived. The technique developed could be considered an ample addition to gas analysis techniques in certain circumstances in terms of expense, convenience and accuracy. The system can predict relative quantities of constituents of the atmosphere to at least 3%. The method described here would allow researchers more time to concentrate on actual results and more resources to allocate to broadening intellectual horizons. This would certainly justify further development.

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ID Code: 16701
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Jaatinen, Esa & Ristovski, Zoran
Keywords: Sagnac, interferometer, interferometry, gas analysis, gas analyser, polarizability, dynamic polarizability, Lorentz-Lorenz equation, optical dispersion
Department: Faculty of Science
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Sean Robert McConnell
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 04:08
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:51

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