Tuesday, January 20, 2015

TERACOMB FET Open project: tuning quantum cascade lasers to the terahertz


The TERACOMB FET Open project successfully developed quantum cascade lasers emitting stably in the terahertz region of the electromagnetic spectrum. This technology would allow for the creation of compact high resolution spectroscopy devices.

A new paper in Nature Photonics from ETH Zürich partner at the TERACOMB project reports about the first experimental realization of an octave-spanning semiconductor injection laser. This ambitious project is focused on pursuing the technology of quantum cascade lasers (QCL) to generate a frequency comb (FC) in the terahertz frequency region. QCLs are currently useful for spectroscopic applications such as remote sensing of environmental gases and pollutants in the atmosphere.
The devices developed by TERACOMB emit in the THz region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Octave spanning lasers are the building block of frequency combs, which constitute nowadays a powerful platform for high resolution spectroscopy in the visible and Mid-IR as well as in metrology. TERACOMB devices not only show octave spanning output but, thanks to careful bandstructure engineering, also display a remarkably stable output with sub-KHz RF beatnotes indicating comb operation on more than 600 GHz spectral bandwidth.
The team at TERACOMB points that such devices pave the way towards compact, comb-based THz spectrometers, overcoming many of the current technological limits on in identification and quantification of complex heavy molecules such as those in toxic chemicals, explosives, and drugs.
The TERACOMB project consortium brings together partners from Austria, France, Switzerland, Germany and the United Kingdom.

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