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Harvard University engineers demonstrate quantum cascade laser nanoantenna
Date:10/22/2007

y on an ultra sharp metallic tip scanned across the sample surface at nanometric distances, can provide ultrahigh spatial resolution but applications are so far strongly limited by the use of bulky lasers with very limited tunability and wavelength coverage.

By combining Quantum Cascade Lasers with optical antenna nanotechnology we have created for the first time an extremely compact device that will enable the realization of new ultrahigh spatial resolution microscopes for chemical imaging on a nanometric scale of a wide range of materials and biological specimens, says Capasso.

Quantum cascade (QC) lasers were invented and first demonstrated by Capasso and his group at Bell Labs in 1994. These compact millimeter length semiconductor lasers, which are now commercially available, are made by stacking nanometer thick layers of semiconductor materials on top of each other. By varying the thickness of the layers one can select the wavelength of the QC laser across essentially the entire infrared spectrum where molecules absorb, thus custom designing it for a specific application. In addition by suitable design the wavelength of a particular QCL can be made widely tunable. The range of applications of QC laser based chemical sensors is very broad, including pollution monitoring, chemical sensing, medical diagnostics such as breath analysis, and homeland security.


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Contact: Michael Patrick Rutter
mrutter@seas.harvard.edu
617-496-3815
Harvard University
Source:Eurekalert

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