High-speed discovery helps measure greenhouse gases from space

Apr 30, 2013
High-speed discovery helps measure greenhouse gases from space

(Phys.org) —Scientists have discovered how to measure greenhouse gases 200,000 times faster as the result research by an award-winning PhD student from The University of Western Australia and a US team.

The discovery - which is already being used by NASA scientists in Space - has major implications for research, (to detect illness), explosives detection, chemical process monitoring and a range of other applications, including fundamental quantum theory.

UWA physics graduate Gar-Wing Truong used highly-sensitive rapid laser scanning technology to help lead US scientists from National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Maryland to build new gas measurement equipment with unparalleled speed, accuracy, precision and spectral coverage.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California has begun using data from Mr Truong's research to calibrate carbon monitoring satellites in orbit around Earth and better understand carbon dioxide molecules.

The research is an extension of Mr Truong's PhD project on precision spectroscopy for gas metrology, which he has conducted at the University since 2009 under the supervision of UWA Winthrop Professor Eric May and former Winthrop Professor Andre Luiten (now at University of Adelaide) , with funding from the Australian Research Council's Discovery program.

Mr Truong said better, more reliable data on global warming held significant benefit to society, helping researchers better understand its causes and accurately evaluate the impact of policy decisions.

"This research is of particular significance to Australia if it is to take the lead in global warming policy and research," Mr Truong said. "It is also highly relevant to WA, where the economy is strongly driven by oil, gas and mineral industries."

Mr Truong, who worked on the new spectroscopy technique while on a year-long Australian Fulbright Fellowship at NIST, said the breakthrough combined ideas already being developed at UWA with apparatus and methods used at NIST.

The resulting novel approach - dubbed Frequency-Agile, Rapid Scanning spectroscopy, or FARS - had greatly improved the speed at which gases could be traced without compromising on precision.

"Usually in science or engineering if you want to make measurements go faster, you have to sacrifice sensitivity," Mr Truong said. "What we have demonstrated here is a 200,000-fold increase in speed to enable high-precision without degrading sensitivity - we've built a new apparatus with unparalleled speed, accuracy, precision and spectral coverage."

"The unique properties of FARS make it well suited for many existing challenges in trace gas sensing," Mr Truong wrote in a paper published online today in the journal, Nature Photonics. "We see clear applications in the real-time measurements of greenhouse gas fluxes, as well as in the monitoring of dynamic processes such as combustion."

Explore further: The first direct-diode laser bright enough to cut and weld metal

More information: dx.doi.org/10.1038/NPHOTON.2013.98

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User comments : 4

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axemaster
1 / 5 (3) Apr 30, 2013
God, it's incredible how they can write a long article about this thing, and yet I still have no idea what the hell it IS!
Egleton
1.6 / 5 (5) Apr 30, 2013
Come on Guys, where are you?
Someone has just got to come out and prove he is a big shot and say that Truong is just on the take.
Talk about penis envy. Sheesh.
Howhot
3.2 / 5 (5) Apr 30, 2013
Scientists have discovered how to measure greenhouse gases 200,000 times faster

Here are the top 10 things deniers will say about this article.

10. Wow! The deniers will really have to cook up a lot of crack-pot ideas to keep up with that!
9. That 200,000 more facts that the deniers will need to lie about. How can they keep up?
8. The deniers will block its NSF funding because it doesn't support the military!
7.The deniers will mistake the 200,000 time faster for a spike in gold prices creating a gold bubble.
6. The deniers wish that was their internet speed!
5. The deniers talk about penis envy... ewwwwhhh.
4. How do you like your global warming data? 200,000 times faster or 200,000 times slower?
3. The deniers say "wow" I thought they said it was 200,000 hotter.
2. The deniers ask "Can I get my chicken wings boneless?"
And the number one thing deniers say about this article..
1. That was really really long article and I still don't know whats the hell it is!

gregor1
2 / 5 (4) Apr 30, 2013
Those damned evil "deniers". Hang on, do you mean the ones who deny the that the climate changes or the ones who deny that all the major data sets show the troposphere hasn't warmed in 17 years? Maybe it's the guys who deny they're actually stooges for the green movement or myriad other big business's that stand to profit from perpetuating a fictitious doomsday fallacy?
Personally I think this is great news though one fears that small amounts of data may send many off on all sorts of alarming tangents.