More efficient laser-based gas detector
Name: Aleksandra Foltynowicz-Matyba
Laser light can be used to measure the level of a particular gas in the atmosphere, for example, but existing technology is limited to one or only a few gases at a time. Wallenberg Academy Fellow Aleksandra Foltynowicz-Matyba will develop a new form of laser-based detector that can measure different gases simultaneously and with high precision.
Different gas molecules absorb light of different wavelengths; each molecule has its own fingerprint in the light spectrum. When researchers shine a laser through a gas they can measure which wavelength is absorbed and see which molecules are in the gas. This laser-based detection is used in environmental monitoring and for mapping Mars’ atmosphere, among other things, as well as in industry, for monitoring combustion processes, and in fundamental research. The method is fast and highly sensitive, but a major limitation is that most lasers can only emit light of one wavelength at a time.
However, in the early 2000s, new opportunities arose when researchers developed mode-locked lasers that can synchronously generate light of different wavelengths.
Aleksandra Foltynowicz-Matyba at Umeå University is using this new form of laser to develop a more flexible detection system that can measure the occurrence of many different gases simultaneously and with high precision. New areas of use include medical diagnostics, where the levels of different gases in a person’s exhalation can be used to detect disease.
Photo: Markus Marcetic © Knut och Alice Wallenbergs Stiftelse/Kungl. Vetenskapsakademien