Methane Detection (CH4)

Importance of laser-based methane detection

nanoplus lasers for carbon dioxide detection are used for:

  • Process Optimization: Combustion control
  • Environment: Detection of greenhouse gases
  • Health: Breath gas analysis

Tunable diode laser spectroscopy allows measuring CH4 with up to ppb precision in real time and in situ. Providing long-term stability and requiring little maintenance, nanoplus lasers are suitable for operation in harsh environments.

Standard wavelengths for methane detection

nanoplus offers various wavelengths to target the vibrational-rotational bands of methane. Different customers use different wavelengths. Literature recommends the following wavelengths for methane detection:

Select your wavelength for methane detection

Above wavelengths are commonly used to detect methane. When you choose your wavelength, you have to consider product set up, environment and nature of the measurement. These factors decide if the selected wavelength is a good match. Let us know the wavelength you require with an accuracy of 0.1 nm!

Do have a look at the HITRAN database to evaluate further wavelengths.

Figure 1: Absorption features of methane in 760 nm to 6000 nm range
Absorption features of methane in 760 nm to 6000 nm range

Related information for laser-based methane detection

Specifications & Mountings


Papers & Links

The following tables analyse the typical specifications of the standard wavelengths for CH4 detection.

electro-optical properties of
1654.0 nm DFB laser diode
standard wavelengthλnm1654.0
absorption line strengthScm / mol∼ 1 x 10-21
output powerpoutmW5
threshold currentlthmA102530
current tuning coefficientcTnm / mA0.080.020.03
temperature tuning coefficientcInm / K0.070.10.14
mode hop free tuning rangeλΔnm+/- 0.5
electro-optical properties of
3270.0 nm DFB interband cascade laser
standard wavelengthλnm3270.0
absorption line strengthScm / mol∼ 2 x 10-19
output powerpoutmW> 1
threshold currentlthmA50
current tuning coefficientcTnm / mA0.2
temperature tuning coefficientcInm / K0.3
mode hop free tuning rangeΔλnm+/- 0.5
mounting options /
technical drawings
wavelengthTECcap with windowAR cap with AR windowfiberheatsinkcollimation
TO5.6 760 nm - 3000 nmNANANANANA
TO5 760 nm - 3000 nmNANA
TO663000 nm - 6000 nmNANA
c-mount 760 nm - 3000 nmNANANANANANA
SM-BTF760 nm - 2360 nmNANAsingle modeNANA
PM-BTF1064 nm - 2050 nmNANApolarization maintainingNANA

Ask for further packages.

Please find below a number of application samples.

Combustion control in high temperature processes:
Continuous monitoring of contents like CO2 or CH4 concentrations is essential for the efficiency of high-temperature processes in e. g. incinerators, furnaces or petrochemical refineries. Managing the CO2 content in combustion processes simultaneously reduces greenhouse gas emissions. This is also relevant for energy generating industries like coal burning power plants. [12, 35, 40, 45, 62]

Combustion control in integrated gasification fuel cell cycles:
Methane content of syngas is controlled to improve combustion efficiency of integrated gasification fuel cell cycles. [35]

Emission control of greenhouse gases:
Greenhouse gas effects and climate change have triggered global emission monitoring of pollutants like methane. Methane is one of the Earth’s most important atmospheric gases. It is, to a large extend, responsible for the accelerating greenhouse effect. The global warming potential of methane is about 30 times higher than that of CO2 based on a 100 year scale. Studies are executed on behalf of the US Environmental Protection Agency to quantify the methane emissions caused by the increased natural gas exploration and production in the US. [61]

Leakage control in gas pipelines:
Leaks of CH4 may cause dangerous situations and are hard to locate precisely. Hence, maintenance of underground pipelines produces high costs. CH4 leaks are also an important source for greenhouse gases. With TDLS a strong tool is available to manufacture portable leak detectors.

Please find below a selection of related papers from our literature list.

Let us know if you published a paper with our lasers. We will be happy to include it in our literature list.

#5 DFB lasers exceeding 3 µm for industrial applications;
L. Naehle, L. Hildebrandt, Laser+Photonics 2012, pp. 78-80.

#7 DFB laser diodes expand hydrocarbon sensing beyond 3 µm;
L. Hildebrandt, L. Naehle, Laser Focus World, January 2012, pp. 87-90.

#9 DFB Lasers Between 760 nm and 16 µm for Sensing Applications;
W. Zeller, L. Naehle, P. Fuchs, F. Gerschuetz, L. Hildebrandt, J. Koeth, Sensors 2010, 10, pp. 2492-2510.

#13 Continuous-wave operation of type-I quantum well DFB laser diodes emitting in 3.4 µm wavelength range around room temperature;
L. Naehle, S. Belahsene, M. von Edlinger, M. Fischer, G. Boissier, P. Grech, G. Narcy, A. Vicet, Y. Rouillard, J. Koeth and L. Worschech, Electron. Lett. 47, 1, Jan 2011, pp. 46-47.

#19 Measurements of Mars Methane at Gale Crater by the SAM Tunable Laser Spectrometer on the Curiosity Rover;
C.R. Webster, P.R. Mahaffy, S.K. Atreya, G.J. Flesch, K.A. Farley, 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, March 18-22, 2013, LPI Contribution No. 1719, p.1366.

#29 Detection of Methane Isotopologues – cw-OPO vs. DFB Diode Laser;
M. Wolff, S. Rhein, H. Bruhns, J. Koeth, L. Hildebrandt, P. Fuchs, 16th International Conference on Photoacoustic and Photothermal Phenomena.

#35 TDLAS-based sensors for in situ measurement of syngas composition in a pressurized, oxygen-blown, entrained flow coal gasifier;
R. Sur, K. Sun, J.B. Jeffries, R.K. Hanson, R.J. Pummill, T. Waind, D.R. Wagner, K.J. Whitty, Appl. Phys. B, 116, 1, 2014, pp. 33-42.

#50 Mid-IR difference frequency laser-based sensors for ambient CH4, CO, and N2O monitoring;
J. J. Scherer, J. B. Paul, H. J. Jost, Marc L. Fischer, Appl. Phys. B, 109, 3, Nov. 2012, pp. 271-277.

#61 Demonstration of an Ethane Spectrometer for Methane Source Identification;
T.I. Yacovitch, S.C. Herndon, J.R. Roscioli, C. Floerchinger, R.M. McGovern, M. Agnese, G. Petron, J. Kofler, C. Sweeney, A. Karion, S.A. Conley, E.A. Kort, L. Naehle, M. Fischer, L. Hildebrandt,.J. Koeth, J.B. McManus, D.D. Nelson, M.S. Zahniser, C.E. Kolb, Environ. Sci. Technol., 48, 2014, 8028-8034.

#62 High-sensitivity interference-free diagnostic for measurement of methane in shock tubes;
R. Sur, S. Wang, K. Sun, D. F. Davidson, J. B. Jeffries, R. K. Hanson, J. of Quant. Spectrosc. and Rad. Transfer, Vol. 156, May 2015, pp. 80–87.

#74 Optical feedback cavity-enhanced absorption spectroscopy with a 3.24 μm interband cascade laser;
K. M. Manfred, G. A. D. Ritchie, N. Lang, J. Röpcke, and J. H. van Helden, App. Phys. Lett., 106, 2015, 221106.

#77 Compact TDLAS based sensor design using interband cascade lasers for mid-IR trace gas sensing;
L. Dong, F. K. Tittel, C. Li, N. P. Sanchez, H. Wu, C. Zheng, Y. Yu, A. Sampaolo, R. J. Griffin; Optics Express Vol. 24, Issue 6, 2016, pp. A528-A535.

#90 Optical feedback cavity-enhanced absorption spectroscopy with a 3.24 µm interband cascade laser;
K. M. Manfred, G. A. D. Ritchie, N. Lang, J. Roepcke, J. H. van Helden, Appl. Phys. Lett. 106, 2015, 221106.

#89 Mars methane detection and variability at Gale crater;
C. R. Webster, P. R. Mahaffy, S. K. Atreya, G. J. Flesch, M. A. Mischna, P.-Y. Meslin, K. A. Farley, P. G. Conrad,L. E. Christensen, A. A. Pavlov, J. Martín-Torres, M.-P. Zorzano, T. H. McConnochie, T. Owen, J. L. Eigenbrode, D. P. Glavin, A. Steele, C. A. Malespin, P. Douglas Archer Jr., B. Sutter, P. Coll, C. Freissinet, C. P. McKay, J. E. Moores, S. P. Schwenzer, J. C. Bridges, R. Navarro-Gonzalez, R. Gellert, M. T. Lemmon, the MSL Science Team, Science, Vol. 347, Issue 6220, Jan 23, 2015, pp. 415-417.