Tunable Continuous Wave THz Source Based on a Room Temperature Quantum Cascade Laser

Project: Research project

Project Details


This proposal presents a new paradigm for compact, efficient, and tunable continuous wave
(CW) THz light generation at room temperature. This type of THz source has numerous
applications in basic science, as well as in explosive and drug detection, security screening (Tray
imaging), astronomy/ astrophysics, and medical imaging. The small size of this source and
potential for mass production may represent a future enabling technology for widespread
access to the THz spectral region.

Intellectual merit: The core elements of this project are: (1) Demonstration of a quantum
cascade laser capable of room temperature CW operation with a high intrinsic THz nonlinearity;
(2) The demonstration of a widely electrically tunable two frequency quantum cascade laser; (3)
Realization of a room temperature, CW, tunable THz source in a compact, single-chip format.
The various research topics necessary include modeling of intersubband gain and transport, c(2)
engineering, thermal management, and laser cavity nonlinearities, all of which are active areas of
investigation in the optoelectronic and physics communities. As such, the results of this
investigation will be of interest to many people in these fields. In addition, progress on the THz
source itself will be of interest to a much wider community of scientists, for a variety of
spectroscopic and imaging applications.

The PI’s background is extremely well matched to the proposed research, and all the
required resources and expertise are available.

Broader impact: With this research, we hope to solve many basic problems with existing THz
sources. It will be small, operate at room temperature, and have an electrically tunable output
frequency. The CW operation will simplify system implementation and allow for a greater
variety of experiments to be performed. It can also be a drop-in replacement for existing THz
sources in many imaging applications. With significant potential for mass production, the source
can be made cheaply, similar to other semiconductor lasers. This will allow many more people
access to THz sources for novel and unique research.
Effective start/end date6/15/135/31/16


  • National Science Foundation (ECCS-1306397)


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