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Proceedings Paper

High power infrared QCLs: advances and applications
Author(s): C. Kumar N. Patel
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Paper Abstract

QCLs are becoming the most important sources of laser radiation in the midwave infrared (MWIR) and longwave infrared (LWIR) regions because of their size, weight, power and reliability advantages over other laser sources in the same spectral regions. The availability of multiwatt RT operation QCLs from 3.5 μm to >16 μm with wall plug efficiency of 10% or higher is hastening the replacement of traditional sources such as OPOs and OPSELs in many applications. QCLs can replace CO2 lasers in many low power applications. Of the two leading groups in improvements in QCL performance, Pranalytica is the commercial organization that has been supplying the highest performance QCLs to various customers for over four year. Using a new QCL design concept, the non-resonant extraction [1], we have achieved CW/RT power of >4.7 W and WPE of >17% in the 4.4 μm - 5.0 μm region. In the LWIR region, we have recently demonstrated QCLs with CW/RT power exceeding 1 W with WPE of nearly 10 % in the 7.0 μm-10.0 μm region. In general, the high power CW/RT operation requires use of TECs to maintain QCLs at appropriate operating temperatures. However, TECs consume additional electrical power, which is not desirable for handheld, battery-operated applications, where system power conversion efficiency is more important than just the QCL chip level power conversion efficiency. In high duty cycle pulsed (quasi-CW) mode, the QCLs can be operated without TECs and have produced nearly the same average power as that available in CW mode with TECs. Multiwatt average powers are obtained even in ambient T>70°C, with true efficiency of electrical power-to-optical power conversion being above 10%. Because of the availability of QCLs with multiwatt power outputs and wavelength range covering a spectral region from ~3.5 μm to >16 μm, the QCLs have found instantaneous acceptance for insertion into multitude of defense and homeland security applications, including laser sources for infrared countermeasures for protecting aircraft from MANPADS, testing of infrared countermeasures, MWIR and LWIR lasers for identify-friend-or-foe (IFF) personnel beacons, infrared target illuminators and designators and tunable QCL applications including in-situ and standoff detection of chemical warfare agents (CWAs) and explosives. The last of these applications addresses a very important and timely need for detection of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in combat environments like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Paper Details

Date Published: 21 January 2012
PDF: 13 pages
Proc. SPIE 8268, Quantum Sensing and Nanophotonic Devices IX, 826802 (21 January 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.916654
Show Author Affiliations
C. Kumar N. Patel, Pranalytica, Inc. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8268:
Quantum Sensing and Nanophotonic Devices IX
Manijeh Razeghi; Eric Tournie; Gail J. Brown, Editor(s)

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