Diode laser absorption sensors for gas-dynamic and combustion flows.
Recent advances in room-temperature, near-IR and visible diode laser sources for tele-communication, high-speed computer networks, and optical data storage applications are enabling a new generation of gas-dynamic and combustion-flow sensors based on laser absorption spectroscopy. In addition to conventional species concentration and density measurements, spectroscopic techniques for temperature, velocity, pressure and mass flux have been demonstrated in laboratory, industrial and technical flows. Combined with fibreoptic distribution networks and ultrasensitive detection strategies, compact and portable sensors are now appearing for a variety of applications. In many cases, the superior spectroscopic quality of the new laser sources compared with earlier cryogenic, mid-IR devices is allowing increased sensitivity of trace species measurements, high-precision spectroscopy of major gas constituents, and stable, autonomous measurement systems. The purpose of this article is to review recent progress in this field and suggest likely directions for future research and development. The various laser-source technologies are briefly reviewed as they relate to sensor applications. Basic theory for laser absorption measurements of gas-dynamic properties is reviewed and special detection strategies for the weak near-IR and visible absorption spectra are described. Typical sensor configurations are described and compared for various application scenarios, ranging from laboratory research to automated field and airborne packages. Recent applications of gas-dynamic sensors for air flows and fluxes of trace atmospheric species are presented. Applications of gas-dynamic and combustion sensors to research and development of high-speed flows aeropropulsion engines, and combustion emissions monitoring are presented in detail, along with emerging flow control systems based on these new sensors. Finally, technology in nonlinear frequency conversion, UV laser materials, room-temperature mid-IR materials and broadly tunable multisection devices is reviewed to suggest new sensor possibilities.