Radiocarbon dioxide detection based on cavity ring-down spectroscopy and a quantum cascade laser

G. Genoud, M. Vainio, H. Phillips, J. Dean, M. Merimaa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Monitoring of radiocarbon (14C) in carbon dioxide is demonstrated using mid-infrared spectroscopy and a quantum cascade laser. The measurement is based on cavity ring-down spectroscopy, and a high sensitivity is achieved with a simple setup. The instrument was tested using a standardized sample containing elevated levels of radiocarbon. Radiocarbon dioxide could be detected from samples with an isotopic ratio 14C/C as low as 50 parts-per-trillion, corresponding to an activity of 5 kBq/m3 in pure CO2, or 2 Bq/m3 in air after extraction of the CO2 from an air sample. The instrument is simple, compact, and robust, making it the ideal tool for on-site measurements. It is aimed for monitoring radioactive gaseous emissions in a nuclear power environment, during the operation and decommissioning of nuclear power plants. Its high sensitivity also makes it the ideal tool for the detection of leaks in radioactive waste repositories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1342-1345
Number of pages4
JournalOptics Letters
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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