Description: A source-modulation microwave spectrograph was utilized to measure line width parameters for several spectral lines in the pure rotational spectrum of formaldehyde (H₂CO). The spectrograph featured high-gain ac amplification and phase-sensitive detection, and was capable of measuring microwave lines having absorption coefficients as small as 10⁻⁷ cm⁻¹ with a frequency resolution on the order of 30 kHz. Center frequencies of the measured lines varied from 4,830 MHz to 72,838 MHz; hence, most of the observations were made on transitions between K-doublets in the rotational spectrum. Corrections were applied to the measured line width parameters to account for Doppler broadening and, where possible, for deviations due to magnetic hyperfine structure in some of the K-doubled lines. Low modulation voltages and low microwave power levels were used to minimize modulation and saturation broadenings; other extraneous broadenings were found to be insignificant. The primary broadening mechanism at low gas pressure is pressure broadening, and a review of this topic is included. Line width parameters for the several observed transitions were determined by graphing half-widths versus pressure for each spectral line, and performing a linear least-squares fit to the data points. Repeatability measurements indicated the accuracy of the line width parameters to be better than ±10 percent. The reasons for this repeatability spread are discussed, Broadening of each line was measured for self- and foreign-gas broadening by atomic helium and diatomic hydrogen. Effective collision diameters were calculated for each broadening interaction, based on the observed rates of broadening.
Date: December 1973
Creator: Rogers, David Valmore