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Detecting gases with light: a review of optical gas sensor technologies

Robert Bogue (Consultant, Okehampton, UK)

Sensor Review

ISSN: 0260-2288

Article publication date: 16 March 2015



This paper aims to provide details of the major optical gas sensing techniques and their applications.


Following an introduction, this paper first identifies the major gas sensing technologies and provides an overview of optical sensing techniques. The sources and impact of the gases most frequently sensed by optical methods are listed. Three non-absorption-based and nine absorption-based methods and their main applications are then described in detail. Brief concluding comments are drawn.


All manner of optical gas sensing techniques have been commercialised and while the majority are absorption-based, several other methods also play a significant role. Some optical gas sensors offer advanced capabilities such as remote monitoring, the creation of 2D and 3D distribution maps, detection of parts per trillion levels and even the visualisation of gases in real time. They play a vital role in protecting workers from hazardous gases, controlling and minimising air pollution and monitoring the atmospheric environment, as well as being used in the food, medical, process, power generation and other industries.


This paper provides a detailed insight into optical gas sensing techniques and their uses.



Bogue, R. (2015), "Detecting gases with light: a review of optical gas sensor technologies", Sensor Review, Vol. 35 No. 2, pp. 133-140.



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