Mid-infrared QCLs were invented and demonstrated by Capasso and his team at Bell Labs in 1994. The compact millimeter length semiconductor lasers operate routinely at room temperature with high optical powers and are increasingly used in the commercial sector for wide range of applications in chemical sensing and trace gas analysis. The devices, made by stacking ultra-thin atomic layers of semiconductor materials on top of each other, are variable and tunable, allowing an engineer to adjust the energy levels in the structure to create artificial laser medium.
"Terahertz imaging and sensing is a very promising but relatively new technology that requires compact, portable and tunable sources to achieve widespread penetration. Our devices are an important first step in this direction," said Capasso. "We believe our THz source has great development potential because the nanoscale material used was grown by Molecular Beam Epitaxy, a commercial and widely used thin film growth technique which 'spray paints' atoms on a surface one layer at a time."
The ability of Terahertz rays to penetrate efficiently through paper, clothing, cardboard, plastic and many other materials makes them ideal for use in many applications. For example, a device emitting T-rays could be used to image concealed weapons, detect chemical and biological agents through sealed packages, see tumors without causing any harmful side effects, and spot defects within materials such as cracks in the Space Shuttle's foam insulation.
|Contact: Michael Patrick Rutter|