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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: GR/T04595/01
Title: Advanced photonics for trace gas detection
Principal Investigator: Hodgkinson, Dr J
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Engineering
Organisation: Cranfield University
Scheme: Advanced Fellowship (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 04 October 2004 Ends: 03 December 2010 Value (£): 248,464
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Lasers & Optics
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
14 Apr 2004 Engineering Fellowships Interview Panel 2004 Deferred
16 Mar 2004 Engineering Fellowships Sift Panel 2004 Deferred
Summary on Grant Application Form
Gas detection and measurement has important application in the fields of safety, environmental monitoring of both indoor and outdoor air, and process control. In general, optical sensors offer a number of advantages over traditional sensor technology:(i) Reduced maintenance costs(ii) Improved audit trails (sensors often have a self-check ability)(iii) Improved selection of the target species(iv) Superior signal to noise ratios that allow low limits of detection.Many gases exhibit characteristic fingerprint absorption of light in the infra-red region of the spectrum, and this forms the basis of many techniques to measure their concentration. In particular, sensors based on tunable diode lasers in the near infra-red have superior perfromance that make them ideal for use in applications that require a low limit of detection combined with little or no maintenance. The technique works by making a measurement of a single gas absorption line at very high resolution, using optical technology originally developed for telecomms. The precise method by which this is achieved can vary from a simple scan across the line, measuring the shape of the absorption line directly, to more sophisticated modulation techniques.Despite these advantages, there are problems with the current state of the art that limit uptake of the technology and add to the complexity of instrument designs. One problem in particular has caused headaches for many researchers - the phenomenon of optical interference fringes. These unwanted signals are created, usually in the sample cell, and are interpreted as spurious gas readings.This research proposes to reduce the effects of these signals by introducing novel methods to essentially average them out. Exploitation is anticipated in the form of new gas detection configurations, developments for other gas detection techniques and ultimately new gas detectors that have improved sensitivity, have simpler designs and are more robust. The work is initially aimed at the detection of methane in air, with future extension to other gases of environmental concern as well as those of specific interest to industrial processes.The research will be based in the School of Engineering at Cranfield University, undertaken by Dr Jane Hodgkinson in the optics group headed by Professor Ralph Tatam. This group has advanced facilities used in optical sensor and optical instrumentation development and has recently benefited from a 2.5M SRIF funded laboratory refurbishment. It is in this first class suite of laboratories that the Fellow would be located.
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Organisation Website: http://www.cranfield.ac.uk