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Single-chip laser delivers powerful result

08 January 2016

Researchers in the US have created a powerful laser by combining all necessary components and functions on a single-chip platform.

A schematic of the new laser system courtesy of Northwestern University

A Northwestern University Engineering team has integrated a mid-infrared tunable laser with an on-chip amplifier, allowing adjustable wavelength output, modulators, and amplifiers to be contained within a single package. With this architecture, the laser has demonstrated an order-of-magnitude more output power than its predecessors, and the tuning range has been enhanced by more than a factor of two.

With mid-infrared spectroscopy, a chemical can be identified through its unique absorption spectrum. This greatly interests government agencies that aim to detect hazardous chemicals or possible explosive threats.

Because the new system is highly directional, the high power can be used more efficiently, allowing for the greater ability to detect chemicals. It also allows for standoff application, which keeps personnel physically distant from potentially dangerous environments. The technology could also benefit free-space optical communications and aircraft protection.

“We demonstrated the first continuously tunable, continuous operation, mid-infrared lasers with electrical tuning of the emission wavelength,” says Professor Manijeh Razeghi who led the study. “This initial demonstration was very exciting, and continuing developing has led us to a number of new projects.”

the research is described in a paper published online in the journal Applied Physics Letters.

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