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Researchers discover that trace gases can speak

By Wang Songsong | | Updated: 2023-12-07 15:36
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A team from the Laser Spectroscopy Institute of Shanxi University, discovered that the interaction of light with certain trace gases generates sound waves. The discovery holds promise for innovations in several fields. [Photo provided to]

The interaction of light and gases can generate sound waves, a team from the Laser Spectroscopy Institute of Shanxi University has discovered.

The discovery means that tiny amounts of trace gases can be detected rapidly — suggesting, for example, that environmental monitors will be able to identify harmful gas leaks early and take prompt corrective measures. Other promising applications are envisioned in the aerospace and energy fields.

The researchers employed a quartz tuning fork to detect sound waves generated in the presence of certain kinds of light. The sensitivity of the technique — using what is called quartz-enhanced photoacoustic spectroscopy — established a world record by two orders of magnitude, the researchers said.

Dong Lei, head of the team, said the discovery makes possible the continuous measurement of trace gases.

Jia Suotang, chief scientist at the institute, said the prospects are promising for the sensing technology.

"We are committed to promoting the widespread application of this technology," Jia added.

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