Piezo activated mode tracking system for widely tunable mode-hop free external cavity mid-IR lasers
Technology Rice researchers have developed a novel architecture of a widely tunable external cavity lasers (primarily in mid-Infrared), which allows performing continuous mode-hop free wavelength scans applicable for high resolution spectroscopy and trace-gas detection. It features a QC laser spectrometer that is suitable for high-resolution spectroscopic applications and multi-species trace-gas detection in the mid-IR. Through the implementation of a novel EC-QCL architecture, the device avoids the shortcomings of prior devices and provides a widely tunable and mode-hop-free frequency scanning of the external cavity laser that is functional for mid-IR wavelengths. The instrument employs a piezo-activated cavity mode tracking system for mode-hop free operation. The mode-tracking system provides independent control of the EC length and diffraction grating angle.
Advantages The flexibility of this arrangement allows the instrument to be used with other lasers at other wavelengths without changing the EC configuration. In addition, the QC and IC gain chips can be used with current anti-reflective (AR) coating technology and are functional even in the absence of any AR coating on the output laser facet.
Potential Applications The device can be used to develop widely tunable high-resolution spectrometers in mid-IR for large variety of molecular spectroscopic applications e.g. detection of trace gases. It has also potential to be used as a tunable frequency standard in heterodyne applications, as well as a widely tunable light source for free-space optical data transmission.
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