Remote chemical detection in the atmosphere or some specific space has always been of great interest in many applications for environmental protection and safety. Laser absorption spectroscopy (LAS) is a highly desirable technology, benefiting from high measurement sensitivity, improved spectral selectivity or resolution, fast response and capability of good spatial resolution, multi-species and standoff detection with a non-cooperative target. Numerous LAS-based standoff detection techniques have seen rapid development recently and are reviewed herein, including differential absorption LiDAR, tunable laser absorption spectroscopy, laser photoacoustic spectroscopy, dual comb spectroscopy, laser heterodyne radiometry and active coherent laser absorption spectroscopy. An update of the current status of these various methods is presented, covering their principles, system compositions, features, developments and applications for standoff chemical detection over the last decade. In addition, a performance comparison together with the challenges and opportunities analysis is presented that describes the broad LAS-based techniques within the framework of remote sensing research and their directions of development for meeting potential practical use.
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