We have developed an open-path hand-held gas detector incorporating a distributed feedback InGaAs laser diode at 1.65 µm. Incorporated into a hand-held transceiver unit, the emitted laser beam is backscattered from nearby surfaces, collected and focused onto an amplified InGaAs detector using a 150 mm diameter plastic Fresnel lens. At ranges of 4–5 m, a typical backscattered signal is tens of nanowatts of laser light. Applying second derivative wavelength modulation spectroscopy gives a sensitivity to methane of better than 10 parts per million over a one metre path length. A number of demonstration units have been fabricated and successfully evaluated by end users
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