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Supercontinuum radiation for ultra-high sensitivity liquid-phase sensing



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Kiwanuka, Ssegawa-Ssekintu 


The real-time detection of trace species is key to a wide range of applications such as on-line chemical process analysis, medical diagnostics, identification of environmentally toxic species and atmospheric pollutant sensing. There is a growing demand for suitable techniques that are not only sensitive, but also simple to operate, fast and versatile. Most currently available techniques, such as spectrophotometry, are neither sensitive enough nor fast enough for kinetic studies, whilst other techniques are too complex to be operated by the non-specialist. This thesis presents two techniques that have been developed for and applied to liquid-phase analysis, with supercontinuum (SC) radiation used for liquid-phase absorption for the first time. Firstly, supercontinuum cavity enhanced absorption spectroscopy (SC-CEAS) was used for the kinetic measurement of chemical species in the liquid phase using a linear optical cavity. This technique is simple to implement, robust and achieves a sensitivity of 9.1 × 10−7 cm−1 Hz−1/2 at a wavelength of 550nm for dye species dissolved in water. SC-CEAS is not calibration-free and for this purpose a second technique, a time-resolved variant called broadband cavity ring-down spectroscopy (BB-CRDS), was successfully developed. Use of a novel single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) array enabled the simultaneous detection of ring-down events at multiple spectral positions for BB-CRDS measurements. The performance of both techniques is demonstrated through a number of applications that included the monitoring of an oscillating (Belousov-Zhabotinsky) reaction, detection of commercially important photoluminescent metal complexes (europium(III)) at trace level concentration, and the analysis of biomedical species (whole and lysed blood) and proteins (amyloids). Absorption spectra covering the entire visible wavelength range can be acquired in fractions of a second using sample volumes measuring only 1.0mL. Most alternative devices capable of achieving similar sensitivity have, up until now, been restricted to single wavelength measurements. This has limited speed and number of species that can be measured at once. The work presented here exemplifies the potential of these techniques as analytical tools for research scientists, healthcare practitioners and process engineers alike.





cavity enhanced absorption spectroscopy, cavity ring-down spectroscopy, supercontinuum, photonic crystal fibre, CEAS, CRDS, SC, PCF


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 UK: England & Wales