Room temperature terahertz semiconductor frequency comb.
ABSTRACT: A terahertz (THz) frequency comb capable of high-resolution measurement will significantly advance THz technology application in spectroscopy, metrology and sensing. The recently developed cryogenic-cooled THz quantum cascade laser (QCL) comb has exhibited great potentials with high power and broadband spectrum. Here, we report a room temperature THz harmonic frequency comb in 2.2 to 3.3?THz based on difference-frequency generation from a mid-IR QCL. The THz comb is intracavity generated via down-converting a mid-IR comb with an integrated mid-IR single mode based on distributed-feedback grating without using external optical elements. The grating Bragg wavelength is largely detuned from the gain peak to suppress the grating dispersion and support the comb operation in the high gain spectral range. Multiheterodyne spectroscopy with multiple equally spaced lines by beating it with a reference Fabry-Pérot comb confirms the THz comb operation. This type of THz comb will find applications to room temperature chip-based THz spectroscopy.
Project description:The ability to engineer quantum-cascade-lasers (QCLs) with ultrabroad gain spectra, and with a full compensation of the group velocity dispersion, at terahertz (THz) frequencies, is key for devising monolithic and miniaturized optical frequency-comb-synthesizers (FCSs) in the far-infrared. In THz QCLs four-wave mixing, driven by intrinsic third-order susceptibility of the intersubband gain medium, self-locks the optical modes in phase, allowing stable comb operation, albeit over a restricted dynamic range (?20% of the laser operational range). Here, we engineer miniaturized THz FCSs, comprising a heterogeneous THz QCL, integrated with a tightly coupled, on-chip, solution-processed, graphene saturable-absorber reflector that preserves phase-coherence between lasing modes, even when four-wave mixing no longer provides dispersion compensation. This enables a high-power (8 mW) FCS with over 90 optical modes, through 55% of the laser operational range. We also achieve stable injection-locking, paving the way to a number of key applications, including high-precision tunable broadband-spectroscopy and quantum-metrology.
Project description:Quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) have become important laser sources for accessing the mid-infrared (mid-IR) spectral range, achieving watt-level continuous wave operation in a compact package at room temperature. However, up to now, wavelength tuning, which is desirable for most applications, has relied on external cavity feedback or exhibited a limited monolithic tuning range. Here we demonstrate a widely tunable QCL source over the 6.2 to 9.1 μm wavelength range with a single emitting aperture by integrating an eight-laser sampled grating distributed feedback laser array with an on-chip beam combiner. The laser gain medium is based on a five-core heterogeneous QCL wafer. A compact tunable laser system was built to drive the individual lasers within the array and produce any desired wavelength within the available spectral range. A rapid, broadband spectral measurement (520 cm(-1)) of methane using the tunable laser source shows excellent agreement to a measurement made using a standard low-speed infrared spectrometer. This monolithic, widely tunable laser technology is compact, with no moving parts, and will open new opportunities for MIR spectroscopy and chemical sensing.
Project description:Mode-locked comb sources operating at optical frequencies underpin applications ranging from spectroscopy and ultrafast physics, through to absolute frequency measurements and atomic clocks. Extending their operation into the terahertz frequency range would greatly benefit from the availability of compact semiconductor-based sources. However, the development of any compact mode-locked THz laser, which itself is inherently a frequency comb, has yet to be achieved without the use of an external stimulus. High-power, electrically pumped quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) have recently emerged as a promising solution, owing to their octave spanning bandwidths, the ability to achieve group-velocity dispersion compensation and the possibility of obtaining active mode-locking. Here, we propose an unprecedented compact architecture to induce both frequency and amplitude self-modulation in a THz QCL. By engineering a microwave avalanche oscillator into the laser cavity, which provides a 10 GHz self-modulation of the bias current and output power, we demonstrate multimode laser emission centered around 3 THz, with distinct multiple sidebands. The resulting microwave amplitude and frequency self-modulation of THz QCLs opens up intriguing perspectives, for engineering integrated self-mode-locked THz lasers, with impact in fields such as nano- and ultrafast photonics and optical metrology.
Project description:Since their inception, optical frequency combs have transformed a broad range of technical and scientific disciplines, spanning time keeping to navigation. Recently, dual comb spectroscopy has emerged as an attractive alternative to traditional Fourier transform spectroscopy, since it offers higher measurement sensitivity in a fraction of the time. Midwave infrared (mid-IR) frequency combs are especially promising as an effective means for probing the strong fundamental absorption lines of numerous chemical and biological agents. Mid-IR combs have been realized via frequency down-conversion of a near-IR comb, by optical pumping of a micro-resonator, and beyond 7 ?m by four-wave mixing in a quantum cascade laser. In this work, we demonstrate an electrically-driven frequency comb source that spans more than 1?THz of bandwidth centered near 3.6 ?m. This is achieved by passively mode-locking an interband cascade laser (ICL) with gain and saturable absorber sections monolithically integrated on the same chip. The new source will significantly enhance the capabilities of mid-IR multi-heterodyne frequency comb spectroscopy systems.
Project description:Optical frequency combs, consisting of well-controlled equidistant frequency lines, have been widely used in precision spectroscopy and metrology. Terahertz combs have been realized in quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) by employing either an active mode-locking or phase seeding technique, or a dispersion compensator mirror. However, it remains a challenge to achieve the passive comb formation in terahertz semiconductor lasers due to the insufficient nonlinearities of conventional saturable absorbers. Here, a passive terahertz frequency comb is demonstrated by coupling a multilayer graphene sample into a QCL compound cavity. The terahertz modes are self-stabilized with intermode beat note linewidths down to a record of 700 Hz and the comb operation of graphene-coupled QCLs is validated by on-chip dual-comb measurements. Furthermore, the optical pulse emitted from the graphene-coupled QCL is directly measured employing a terahertz pump-probe technique. The enhanced passive frequency comb operation is attributed to the saturable absorption behavior of the graphene-integrated saturable absorber mirror, as well as the dispersion compensation introduced by the graphene sample. The results provide a conceptually different graphene-based approach for passive comb formation in terahertz QCLs, opening up intriguing opportunities for fast and high-precision terahertz spectroscopy and nonlinear photonics.
Project description:The exploitation of ultrafast electron dynamics in quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) holds enormous potential for intense, compact mode-locked terahertz (THz) sources, squeezed THz light, frequency mixers, and comb-based metrology systems. Yet the important sub-cycle dynamics have been notoriously difficult to access in operational THz QCLs. Here, we employ high-field THz pulses to perform the first ultrafast two-dimensional spectroscopy of a free-running THz QCL. Strong incoherent and coherent nonlinearities up to eight-wave mixing are detected below and above the laser threshold. These data not only reveal extremely short gain recovery times of 2 ps at the laser threshold, they also reflect the nonlinear polarization dynamics of the QCL laser transition for the first time, where we quantify the corresponding dephasing times between 0.9 and 1.5 ps with increasing bias currents. A density-matrix approach reproducing the emergence of all nonlinearities and their ultrafast evolution, simultaneously, allows us to map the coherently induced trajectory of the Bloch vector. The observed high-order multi-wave mixing nonlinearities benefit from resonant enhancement in the absence of absorption losses and bear potential for a number of future applications, ranging from efficient intracavity frequency conversion, mode proliferation to passive mode locking.
Project description:Optical frequency combs in the terahertz frequency range are long-awaited frequency standards for spectroscopy of molecules and high-speed wireless communications. However, a terahertz frequency comb based on a low-cost, energy-efficient, and room-temperature-operating device remains unavailable especially in the frequency range of 0.1 to 3 THz. In this paper, we show that the resonant-tunneling-diode (RTD) oscillator can be passively mode-locked by optical feedback and generate a terahertz frequency comb. The standard deviation of the spacing between the comb lines, i.e., the repetition frequency, is reduced to less than 420 mHz by applying external bias modulation. A simulation model successfully reproduces the mode-locking behavior by including the nonlinear capacitance of RTD and multiple optical feedback. Since the mode-locked RTD oscillator is a simple semiconductor device that operates at room temperature and covers the frequency range of 0.1 to 2 THz (potentially up to 3 THz), it can be used as a frequency standard for future terahertz sensing and wireless communications.
Project description:A compact, high power, room temperature continuous wave terahertz source emitting in a wide frequency range (?~1-5 THz) is of great importance to terahertz system development for applications in spectroscopy, communication, sensing, and imaging. Here, we present a strong-coupled strain-balanced quantum cascade laser design for efficient THz generation based on intracavity difference frequency generation. Room temperature continuous wave emission at 3.41?THz with a side-mode suppression ratio of 30 dB and output power up to 14 ?W is achieved with a wall-plug efficiency about one order of magnitude higher than previous demonstrations. With this highly efficient design, continuous wave, single mode THz emissions with a wide frequency tuning range of 2.06-4.35?THz and an output power up to 4.2 ?W are demonstrated at room temperature from two monolithic three-section sampled grating distributed feedback-distributed Bragg reflector lasers.
Project description:Miniaturized frequency comb sources across hard-to-access spectral regions, i.e. mid- and far-infrared, have long been sought. Four-wave-mixing based Quantum Cascade Laser combs (QCL-combs) are ideal candidates, in this respect, due to the unique possibility to tailor their spectral emission by proper nanoscale design of the quantum wells. We demonstrate full-phase-stabilization of a QCL-comb against the primary frequency standard, proving independent and simultaneous control of the two comb degrees of freedom (modes spacing and frequency offset) at a metrological level. Each emitted mode exhibits a sub-Hz relative frequency stability, while a correlation analysis on the modal phases confirms the high degree of coherence in the device emission, over different power-cycles and over different days. The achievement of fully controlled, phase-stabilized QCL-comb emitters proves that this technology is mature for metrological-grade uses, as well as for an increasing number of scientific and technological applications.
Project description:The mid-infrared spectral range (?~2-20??m) is of particular importance as many molecules exhibit strong vibrational fingerprints in this region. Optical frequency combs--broadband optical sources consisting of equally spaced and mutually coherent sharp lines--are creating new opportunities for advanced spectroscopy. Here we demonstrate a novel approach to create mid-infrared optical frequency combs via four-wave mixing in a continuous-wave pumped ultra-high Q crystalline microresonator made of magnesium fluoride. Careful choice of the resonator material and design made it possible to generate a broadband, low-phase noise Kerr comb at ?=2.5??m spanning 200?nm (?10?THz) with a line spacing of 100?GHz. With its distinguishing features of compactness, efficient conversion, large mode spacing and high power per comb line, this novel frequency comb source holds promise for new approaches to molecular spectroscopy and is suitable to be extended further into the mid-infrared.