A discharge-emission spectrometer and a cavity ringdown spectrometer have been developed to aid in the solution to the diffuse interstellar band (DIB) problem. A hollow cathode was used to generate molecular ions in a discharge because it has been suggested that molecular ions are probable DIB candidates. The discharge was produced by a pulsed voltage of 1300–1500 V. A wide wavelength range of optical emission from the discharge was examined by a HORIBA Jobin Yvon iHR320 monochromator. The dispersed discharge emission was detected by a photomultiplier and was recorded via a lock-in amplifier. The 2B3u–X2B2g electronic transition of the butatriene cation H2CCCCH2+ was observed in the discharge emission of 2-butyne H3CCCCH3. The frequency of the electronic transition was measured to be 20381 cm−1, and a comparison study was made with known DIB spectra.
The resolution of the discharge-emission spectrometer is insufficient to make precise comparisons between laboratory frequencies and astronomically observed DIB spectra. We therefore developed the cavity ringdown spectrometer using the same hollow cathode. The high sensitivity of this spectrometer was confirmed by the observation of the forbidden band of O2.