Auto-digital gain balancing: a new detection scheme for high-speed chemical species tomography of minor constituents

Sandip Pal*, Hugh McCann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In many dynamic gas-phase reaction processes, there is great interest to measure the distribution of minor constituents, i.e. <10−3 by volume (1000 ppm). One such case is the after-treatment of automotive gasoline engine exhaust by catalytic conversion, where a characteristic challenge is to image the distribution of 10 ppm (average) of carbon monoxide (CO) at 1000 frames per second across a 50 mm diameter exhaust pipe; this particular problem has been pursued as a case study. In this paper, we present a novel electronic scheme that achieves the required measurement of around 10−3 absorption with 10−4precision at kHz bandwidth. This was not previously achievable with any known technology. We call the new scheme Auto-Digital Gain Balancing. It is amenable to replication for many simultaneous measurement channels, and it permits simultaneous measurement of multiple species, in some circumstances. Experimental demonstrations are presented in the near-infrared. In single scans of a tunable diode laser, measurements of both CO and CO2 have been made with 20 dB signal-to-noise ratio at peak absorption. This work paves the way for chemical species tomography of minor constituents in many dynamic gas-phase systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115304
Number of pages13
JournalMeasurement Science and Technology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


  • absorption
  • chemical
  • detection
  • infrared
  • low-noise
  • minor
  • sensitive
  • species
  • tomography

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