The vast majority of gaseous chemical substances exhibit fundamental vibrational absorption bands in the mid-infrared spectral region (≈ 2–25 μm), and the absorption of light by these fundamental bands provides a nearly universal means for their detection. A main feature of optical techniques is the non-intrusive in situ detection capability for trace gases. The focus time period of this chapter is the years 1996–2002 and we will discuss primarily CW mid-infrared laser spectroscopy. We shall not attempt to review the large number of diverse mid-infrared spectroscopic laser applications published to date. The scope of this chapter is rather to discuss recent developments of mid-infrared laser sources, with emphasis on established and new spectroscopic techniques and their applications for sensitive, selective, and quantitative trace gas detection. For example, laboratory based spectroscopic studies and chemical kinetics, which will also benefit from new laser source and technique developments, will not be considered.
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