Abstract

Measurement of radical concentrations is important in understanding the chemical kinetics involved in combustion. Application of optical techniques allows for the nonintrusive determination of specific radical concentrations. One of the most challenging problems for investigators is to obtain flame data that are independent of the collisional environment. We seek to obviate this difficulty by the use of picosecond pump–probe absorption spectroscopy. A picosecond pump–probe absorption model is developed by rate-equation analysis. Implications are discussed for a laser-pulse width that is much smaller than the excited-state lifetime of the absorbing atom or molecule. The possibility of quantitative, quenching-independent concentration measurements is discussed, and detection limits for atomic sodium and the hydroxyl radical are estimated. For a three-level absorber–emitter, the model leads to a novel pump–probe strategy, called dual-beam asynchronous optical sampling, that can be used to obtain both the electronic quenching-rate coefficient and the doublet mixing-rate coefficient during a single measurement. We discuss the successful demonstration of the technique in a companion paper [Appl. Opt. 34, XXX (1995)].

© 1995 Optical Society of America

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