The molecular spectroscopy of CO2 is important for testing of performance enhancing drugs such as synthetic testosterone, and forensic analysis of illicit drugs such as heroine. The monitoring of atmospheric CO2 isotopes also provides an important tool for understanding the carbon cycle dynamics of the earth's climate system.
The ANU is collaborating with the National Measurement Institute and industry partners to develop a highly sensitive spectrometry technique for CO2, with seed funding to commercialise the technology for field deployment. We use lasers to measure spectral absorption in CO2 using high-resolution optical interferometry, where its sensitivity is enhanced using resonant optical cavities. This effort requires multi-disciplinary R&D, and there are several experimental projects to work on, involving laser optics, physical chemistry, mechanical design, and control systems.