Completely automated open-path FT-IR spectrometry

Griffiths, Peter R.; Limin Shao; Leytem, April B.
January 2009
Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry;Jan2009, Vol. 393 Issue 1, p45
Academic Journal
Atmospheric analysis by open-path Fourier-transform infrared (OP/FT-IR) spectrometry has been possible for over two decades but has not been widely used because of the limitations of the software of commercial instruments. In this paper, we describe the current state-of-the-art of the hardware and software that constitutes a contemporary OP/FT-IR spectrometer. We then describe advances that have been made in our laboratory that have enabled many of the limitations of this type of instrument to be overcome. These include not having to acquire a single-beam background spectrum that compensates for absorption features in the spectra of atmospheric water vapor and carbon dioxide. Instead, an easily measured “short path-length” background spectrum is used for calculation of each absorbance spectrum that is measured over a long path-length. To accomplish this goal, the algorithm used to calculate the concentrations of trace atmospheric molecules was changed from classical least-squares regression (CLS) to partial least-squares regression (PLS). For calibration, OP/FT-IR spectra are measured in pristine air over a wide variety of path-lengths, temperatures, and humidities, ratioed against a short-path background, and converted to absorbance; the reference spectrum of each analyte is then multiplied by randomly selected coefficients and added to these background spectra. Automatic baseline correction for small molecules with resolved rotational fine structure, such as ammonia and methane, is effected using wavelet transforms. A novel method of correcting for the effect of the nonlinear response of mercury cadmium telluride detectors is also incorporated. Finally, target factor analysis may be used to detect the onset of a given pollutant when its concentration exceeds a certain threshold. In this way, the concentration of atmospheric species has been obtained from OP/FT-IR spectra measured at intervals of 1 min over a period of many hours with no operator intervention.


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