High-speed free space optical communications based on quantum cascade lasers and type-II superlattice detectors

Stephen M. Johnson, Emily Dial, M. Razeghi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

8 Scopus citations


Free-space optical communications (FSOC) is a promising avenue for point-to-point, high-bandwidth, and high-security communication links. It has the potential to solve the "last mile" problem modern communication systems face, allowing for high-speed communication links without the expensive and expansive infrastructure required by fiber optic and wireless technologies 1. Although commercial FSOC systems currently exist, due to their operation in the near infrared and short infrared ranges, they are necessarily limited by atmospheric absorption and scattering losses 2. Mid-infrared (MWIR) wavelengths are desirable for free space communications systems because they have lower atmospheric scattering losses compared to near-infrared communication links. This leads to increased range and link uptimes. Since this portion of the EM spectrum is unlicensed, link establishment can be implemented quickly. Quantum cascade lasers (QCL) are ideal FSOC transmitters because their emission wavelength is adjustable to MWIR 3. Compared to the typical VCSEL and laser diodes used in commercial NIR and SWIR FSOC systems, however, they require increased threshold and modulation currents 4. Receivers based on type-II superlattice (T2SL) detectors are desired in FSOC for their low dark current, high temperature operation, and band gap tunable to MWIR 5. In this paper, we demonstrate the implementation of a high-speed FSOC system using a QCL and a T2SL detector.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationQuantum Sensing and Nano Electronics and Photonics XVII
EditorsManijeh Razeghi, Jay S. Lewis, Giti A. Khodaparast, Pedram Khalili
ISBN (Electronic)9781510633391
StatePublished - 2020
EventQuantum Sensing and Nano Electronics and Photonics XVII 2020 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: Feb 2 2020Feb 6 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


ConferenceQuantum Sensing and Nano Electronics and Photonics XVII 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco


  • Free space communications
  • Mid-infrared
  • Photodetector
  • Quantum cascade laser
  • Room temperature
  • Superlattices
  • Type-II

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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