Vaisala CARBOCAP® Technology for demanding environments


First launched in 1997, the Vaisala CARBOCAP® sensor features a groundbreaking innovation – the micromachined, electrically tunable Fabry-Pérot Interferometer (FPI) filter for built-in reference measurement. This reliable and stable sensor has been delivering accurate measurements since the late 1990s across a wide range of industries and applications, from building automation and safety to life sciences and ecological research.

How it works

Gases have a characteristic absorbance band in the infrared (IR) region, each at a unique wavelenght. When IR radiation is passed through a gas containing another gas we are measuring, part of the radiation is absorbed. Therefore, the amount of radiation passing through the gas depends on the amount of the measured gas present, and this can be detected with an IR detector.

Structure of the CARBOCAP® sensor. Both reference and gas absorption are measured in the same optical path.


The Vaisala CARBOCAP® sensor features an electrically tunable FPI filter. In addition to measuring gas absorption, the micromechanical FPI filter enables a reference measurement at a wavelength where no absorption occurs. When taking the reference measurement, the FPI filter is electrically adjusted to switch the bypass band from the absorption wavelength to a non-absorption wavelength. The reference measurement compensates for any potential changes in the light source intensity, as well as for contamination and dirt accumulation in the optical path. This feature means that CARBOCAP® sensor operation is highly stable over time.

Instruments measuring at several absorption and reference wavelengths with a single light source are known as single-beam multi-wavelenght instruments.The technology is widely applied in costly analyzers. The unique feature of the CARBOCAP® sensor is its micromachined FPI filter, which performs a multiwavelength measurement using a single detector. The compact size of the sensor means that this advanced technology can be incorporated into small probes, modules, and transmitters.

Typical applications for carbon dioxide measurement

Vaisala CARBOCAP® sensor technology is well suited to a wide range of applications, but since the final customer value for each industrial application is unique, it depends on the product line how the CARBOCAP® sensor technology is implemented. In carbon dioxide measurement products, the technology is utilized for both ppm (parts per million) and percentage level measurements. Since CO2 replaces oxygen, it can be harmful to people in very high concentrations. CO2 is present at percentage levels only within closed processes such as fermentation and controlled atmosphere storage environments. Percentage-level measurements are also typical in life-science applications such as CO2 incubators.

Normal atmospheric air includes CO2 at ppm levels. Typical CARBOCAP® applications include ventilation control in buildings occupied by people, animal shelters, and greenhouses. In areas where large volumes of CO2 are handled, reliable CO2 measurement with alarm control is an important safety precaution. The CARBOCAP® sensor is also a popular choice in ecological measurement applications such as biogas process lines, where excellent long-term stability and tolerance to harsh conditions are important requirements. For biogas applications, the technology is applied for multigas measurements, as it also helps improve the methane quality in the process.

Product examples

Vaisala's instruments including the CARBOCAP® sensor technology range from hand-held meters, measurement modules, and industrial transmitters for CO2 measurements to multigas
measurement solutions.

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Vaisala CARBOCAP Technology

CARBOCAP® Technology inside

Vaisala uses a single-beam and dual-wavelength NDIR (Non-dispersive infrared) technology for measuring CO2, The patented CARBOCAP® technology is used in all our CO2 sensors. This technology incorporates a unique tunable band pass filter that was developed by Vaisala and is manufactured in our own state-of-the-art cleanroom.  View this video to find out why it's unique and why it makes the Vaisala CO2 measurement the most reliable and accurate one on the market or learn more on our carbon dioxide page.

Products using CARBOCAP® Technology

CO2 Probe is suitable for agriculture, refrigeration, greenhouses, demanding HVAC applications, and for plant growth chamber manufacturers

CO₂ Probe GMP252

for ppm-level measurements in agriculture, refrigeration, demanding HVAC, and for plant growth manufacturers
The Vaisala CARBOCAP® Carbon Dioxide...

CO₂ Probe GMP251

for %-level measurements in life science incubators, cold storage facilities and all demanding applications
The Vaisala CARBOCAP® Carbon Dioxide...
GMP343 Carbon Dioxide Probe

CO₂ Probe GMP343

for demanding measurements
The Vaisala CARBOCAP® Carbon Dioxide Probe GMP343 is an accurate and rugged probe-type instrument for ecological...
Carbon Dioxide Probe GMP231

CO₂ Probe GMP231

for CO₂ incubators
The Vaisala CARBOCAP® Carbon Dioxide Probe GMP231 is designed to provide incubator manufacturers with accurate...

Handheld CO₂ Meter GM70

for spot-checking applications
The Vaisala CARBOCAP® Hand-held Carbon Dioxide Meter GM70 measures volume concentration of CO2 in the units of ppm or...