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Laser spectroscopy has found many industrial applications, e.g., control of automotive exhaust and process monitoring. The midinfrared region is of special interest because it has stronger absorption lines compared to the near infrared (NIR). However, in the NIR high quality reliable laser sources, detectors, and passive optical components are available. A quantum cascade laser could change this situation if fundamental advantages can be exploited with compact and reliable systems. It will be shown that, using pulsed lasers and available fast detectors, lower residual sensitivity levels than in corresponding NIR systems can be achieved. The stability is sufficient for industrial applications. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.