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Lasers & Sources

Quantum cascade lasers: A video interview with Claire F. Gmachl

The quantum cascade laser's unique properties -- especially its power, tuning range and ability to work pulsed at room temperature -- make it ideal for a variety of gas sensing applications.
17 December 2006, SPIE Newsroom. DOI: 10.1117/2.3200612.0001
Claire F. Gmachl is Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Princeton University. Her research group works on the development of new quantum devices, especially lasers, and their optimization for systems applications ranging from sensors to optical communications. She received her PhD in 1995 from the Technical University of Vienna (Austria). She worked for eight years at Bell Labs, where she was part of the group that built the first quantum cascade laser. In 2005 she received a MacArthur Foundation fellowship for her work in the field.
In 2006 she became director of the MIRTHE (for Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment), headquartered at Princeton. MIRTHE is a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center with partners City College New York, Johns Hopkins, Rice, Texas A&M, and the University of Maryland Baltimore County. The center encompasses a world-class team of engineers, chemists, physicists, environmental and bio-engineers, and medical doctors. MIRTHE's goal is to develop mid-infrared optical trace gas sensing systems based on new technologies such as quantum cascade lasers or quartz enhanced photo-acoustic spectroscopy, with the ability to detect minute amounts of chemicals found in the environment or atmosphere, emitted from spills, combustion, or natural sources, or exhaled in human breath.
Gmachl was a chair of the SPIE conference "Infrared, Mid-IR, and THz Technologies for Health and the Environment," held in at the Optics East symposium in Boston in October 2006. This interview was conducted at that symposium.