Public Lab Research note

Using the HITRAN database for spectral analysis

by warren | | 8,568 views | 6 comments |

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I'm really curious about our ability to identify methane and other gases with DIY spectroscopy in some form. I found this database of absorbances for various gases:

To quickly see what it provides, see this graph i generated on the site, for methane:

The whole site is organized by wavenumber, which is the inverse of wavelength. (easy online converter:


This reminds me of some work I heard about a few years ago, monitoring the emissions of automobiles as they drive past a mobile monitoring station. I believe the tailpipe emissions were monitored spectroscopically using a $10 black body source (an ignitor from a gas dryer), a series of infrared filters (to select wavelengths for detection) and a detector.

This technique could probably be applied to general atmospheric monitoring, though the fluctuations will be lower if you're probing well mixed air and not at the source of the emissions.

Here's the reference I found.

Environ. Sci. Technol. 2000, 34, 1110-1116

Good luck!

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