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Researchers realize high-power, narrowband terahertz source at room temperature
Date:12/12/2011

wo mid-infrared laser beams within a single semiconductor chip in the presence of a giant nonlinearity. This nonlinearity allows for new terahertz photons to be created within the same chip with an energy equal to the difference of the mid-infrared lasers' energies. As mid-infrared lasers based on quantum cascade laser technology are operable at room temperature, the terahertz emission can also be demonstrated at room temperature.

Razeghi and her group at the Center for Quantum Devices have taken this basic approach a step further by addressing two key issues that have limited the usefulness of initial demonstrations. Razeghi's group currently leads the world in high-power quantum cascade laser technology; by increasing the power and beam quality of the mid-infrared pumps, the terahertz power has been significantly increased by more than a factor of 30 to ~10 microwatts.

Additionally, the researchers have incorporated a novel dual-wavelength diffraction grating within the laser cavity to create single mode (narrow spectrum) mid-infrared sources, which in turn has led to very narrow linewidth terahertz emission near 4 terahertz. Further, due to the novel generation mechanism, the terahertz spectrum is extremely stable with respect to current and/or temperature. This could make it valuable as a local oscillator, which can be used for low light level receivers like those needed for astronomical applications.

Razeghi said her group will continue in hopes of reaching higher power levels.

"Our goal is to reach milliwatt power levels and incorporate tuning within the device," Razeghi said. "Theory says that it is possible, and we have all of the tools necessary to realize this potential."


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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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