Proceedings PaperTunable laser diode system for noninvasive blood glucose measurements
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Tight control of blood glucose levels has been shown to dramatically reduce the long-term complications of diabetes. Current invasive technology for monitoring glucose levels is effective but underutilized by people with diabetes because of the pain of repeated finger-sticks and the cost of reagent strips. Optical sensing of glucose could potentially allow more frequent monitoring and tighter glucose control for people with diabetes. The key to a successful optical non-invasive measurement of glucose is the collection of an optical spectrum with a very high signal-to-noise-ratio in a spectral region with significant glucose absorption. Unfortunately, the optical throughput of skin is very small due to absorption and scattering. To overcome these difficulties, we have developed a high-brightness tunable laser system for measurements in the 2.0-2.5 μm wavelength range. The system is based on a 2.3 micron wavelength, strained quantum-well laser diode incorporating GaInAsSb wells and AlGaAsSb barrier and cladding layers. Wavelength control is provided by coupling the laser diode to an external cavity that includes an acousto-optic tunable filter. Tuning ranges of greater than 110 nm have been obtained. Because the tunable filter has no moving parts, scans can be completed very quickly, typically in less than 10 ms. We describe the performance of the laser system and its potential for use in a non-invasive glucose sensor.