A Double Resonance Approach to Submillimeter/Terahertz Remote Sensing at Atmospheric Pressure

Document Type


Publication Date



The remote sensing of gases in complex mixtures at atmospheric pressure is a challenging problem and much attention has been paid to it. The most fundamental difference between this application and highly successful astrophysical and upper atmospheric remote sensing is the line width associated with atmospheric pressure broadening, ~ 5 GHz in all spectral regions. In this paper, we discuss quantitatively a new approach that would use a short pulse infrared laser to modulate the submillimeter/terahertz (SMM/THz) spectral absorptions on the time scale of atmospheric relaxation. We show that such a scheme has three important attributes. 1) The time resolved pump makes it possible and efficient to separate signal from atmospheric and system clutter, thereby gaining as much as a factor of 106 in sensitivity. 2) The 3-D information matrix (infrared pump laser frequency, SMM/THz probe frequency, and time resolved SMM/THz relaxation) can provide orders of magnitude greater specificity than a sensor that uses only one of these three dimensions. 3) The congested and relatively weak spectra associated with large molecules can actually be an asset because the usually deleterious effect of their overlapping spectra can be used to increase signal strength.