It is well known that many gas molecules can absorb radiation in the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. When infrared radiation is incident on the gas, the energy states of atoms vibrating in the molecules change in discrete steps when the wavelength of the infrared matches the molecules natural frequencies or resonances. Put simply, the vibrations of atoms held in their chemical bonds increase when excited by light of the right wavelength.
A gas detector is a device which detects the presence of various gases within an area, usually as part of a safety system. This type of equipment is used to detect a gas leak and interface with a control system so a process can be automatically shut down. A gas detector can also sound an alarm to operators in the area where the leak is occurring, giving them the opportunity to leave the area. This type of device is important because there are many gases that can be harmful to organic life, such as humans or animals.