Abstract

We report experiments evaluating the feasibility of quantum-cascade lasers (QCLs) at mid-infrared wavelengths for use as local oscillators (LOs) in a heterodyne receiver. Performance tests with continuous-wave (cw) lasers around 9.6 and 9.2 µm were carried out investigating optical output power, laser linewidth, and tunability. A direct comparison with a CO2 gas laser LO is presented as well. The achieved system sensitivity in a heterodyne spectrometer of only a factor of 2 above the quantum limit together with the measured linewidth of less than 1.5 MHz shows that QCLs are suitable laser sources for heterodyne spectroscopy with sufficient output power to replace gas lasers as LOs even in high-sensitivity astronomical heterodyne receivers. In addition, our experiments show that the tunability of the lasers can be greatly enhanced by use of an external cavity.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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  1. J. Faist, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, C. Sirtori, A. L. Hutchinson, A. Y. Cho, “Quantum cascade laser,” Science 264, 553–556 (1994).
    [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  2. T. Kostiuk, M. J. Mumma, “Remote sensing by IR heterodyne spectroscopy,” Appl. Opt. 22, 2644–2654 (1983).
    [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  3. F. Schmülling, “Entwicklung eines hochauflösenden Infrarot-Heterodynspektrometers mit einem Bleisalz Diodenlaser als Lokaloszillator,” Ph.D. dissertation (University of Cologne, 1997).
  4. G. Sonnabend, D. Wirtz, F. Schmülling, R. Schieder, “Tuneable heterodyne infrared spectrometer for atmospheric and astronomical studies,” Appl. Opt. 41, 2978–2984 (2002).
    [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  5. S. W. Sharpe, J. F. Kelly, J. S. Hartman, C. Gmachl, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. Y. Cho, “Highresolution (Doppler-limited) spectroscopy using quantum-cascade distributed-feedback lasers,” Opt. Lett. 23, 1396–1398 (1998).
    [CrossRef]
  6. R. M. Williams, J. F. Kelly, J. S. Hartman, S. W. Sharpe, M. S. Taubman, J. L. Hall, F. Capasso, C. Gmachl, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. Y. Cho, “Kilohertz linewidth from frequency-stabilized mid-infrared quantum cascade lasers,” Opt. Lett. 24, 1844–1846 (1999).
    [CrossRef]
  7. H. Ganser, B. Frech, A. Jentsch, M. Mürtz, C. Gmachl, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. L. Hutchinson, A. Y. Cho, W. Urban, “Investigation of the spectral width of quantum cascade laser emission near 5.2 µm by a heterodyne experiment,” Opt. Commun. 197, 127–130 (2001).
    [CrossRef]
  8. D. Weidmann, L. Joly, V. Parpillon, D. Courtois, Y. Bonetti, T. Aellen, M. Beck, J. Faist, D. Hofstetter, “Free-running 9.1 µm distributed-feedback quantum cascade laser linewidth measurement by heterodyning with a CO2 laser,” Opt. Lett. 28, 704–706 (2003).
    [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  9. F. Schmülling, B. Klumb, M. Harter, R. Schieder, B. Vowinkel, G. Winnewisser, “High-sensitivity mid-infrared heterodyne spectrometer with a tunable diode laser as a local oscillator,” Appl. Opt. 37, 5771–5776 (1998).
    [CrossRef]
  10. A. Betz, M. Johnson, R. McLaren, E. Sutton, “Heterodyne detection of CO2 emission lines and wind velocities in the atmosphere of Venus,” Astrophys. J. 208, L141–L144 (1976).
    [CrossRef]
  11. T. Kostiuk, K. Fast, T. Livengood, T. Hewagama, J. Goldstein, F. Espenak, D. Buhl, “Direct measurement of winds of Titan,” Geophys. Res. Lett. 28, 2361–2364 (2001).
    [CrossRef]
  12. K. Fast, T. Kostiuk, P. Romani, F. Espenak, T. Hewagama, A. Betz, R. Boreiko, T. Livengood, “Temporal behavior of stratospheric ammonia abundance and temperature following the SL9 impacts,” Icarus 156, 485–497 (2002).
    [CrossRef]
  13. G. Sonnabend, D. Wirtz, V. Vetterle, R. Schieder, “Highresolution observations of Martian non-thermal CO2 emission near 10 micron with a new tuneable heterodyne receiver,” Astron. Astrophys. 435, 1181–1184 (2005).
    [CrossRef]

2005 (1)

G. Sonnabend, D. Wirtz, V. Vetterle, R. Schieder, “Highresolution observations of Martian non-thermal CO2 emission near 10 micron with a new tuneable heterodyne receiver,” Astron. Astrophys. 435, 1181–1184 (2005).
[CrossRef]

2003 (1)

2002 (2)

G. Sonnabend, D. Wirtz, F. Schmülling, R. Schieder, “Tuneable heterodyne infrared spectrometer for atmospheric and astronomical studies,” Appl. Opt. 41, 2978–2984 (2002).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

K. Fast, T. Kostiuk, P. Romani, F. Espenak, T. Hewagama, A. Betz, R. Boreiko, T. Livengood, “Temporal behavior of stratospheric ammonia abundance and temperature following the SL9 impacts,” Icarus 156, 485–497 (2002).
[CrossRef]

2001 (2)

T. Kostiuk, K. Fast, T. Livengood, T. Hewagama, J. Goldstein, F. Espenak, D. Buhl, “Direct measurement of winds of Titan,” Geophys. Res. Lett. 28, 2361–2364 (2001).
[CrossRef]

H. Ganser, B. Frech, A. Jentsch, M. Mürtz, C. Gmachl, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. L. Hutchinson, A. Y. Cho, W. Urban, “Investigation of the spectral width of quantum cascade laser emission near 5.2 µm by a heterodyne experiment,” Opt. Commun. 197, 127–130 (2001).
[CrossRef]

1999 (1)

1998 (2)

1994 (1)

J. Faist, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, C. Sirtori, A. L. Hutchinson, A. Y. Cho, “Quantum cascade laser,” Science 264, 553–556 (1994).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

1983 (1)

1976 (1)

A. Betz, M. Johnson, R. McLaren, E. Sutton, “Heterodyne detection of CO2 emission lines and wind velocities in the atmosphere of Venus,” Astrophys. J. 208, L141–L144 (1976).
[CrossRef]

Aellen, T.

Baillargeon, J. N.

Beck, M.

Betz, A.

K. Fast, T. Kostiuk, P. Romani, F. Espenak, T. Hewagama, A. Betz, R. Boreiko, T. Livengood, “Temporal behavior of stratospheric ammonia abundance and temperature following the SL9 impacts,” Icarus 156, 485–497 (2002).
[CrossRef]

A. Betz, M. Johnson, R. McLaren, E. Sutton, “Heterodyne detection of CO2 emission lines and wind velocities in the atmosphere of Venus,” Astrophys. J. 208, L141–L144 (1976).
[CrossRef]

Bonetti, Y.

Boreiko, R.

K. Fast, T. Kostiuk, P. Romani, F. Espenak, T. Hewagama, A. Betz, R. Boreiko, T. Livengood, “Temporal behavior of stratospheric ammonia abundance and temperature following the SL9 impacts,” Icarus 156, 485–497 (2002).
[CrossRef]

Buhl, D.

T. Kostiuk, K. Fast, T. Livengood, T. Hewagama, J. Goldstein, F. Espenak, D. Buhl, “Direct measurement of winds of Titan,” Geophys. Res. Lett. 28, 2361–2364 (2001).
[CrossRef]

Capasso, F.

H. Ganser, B. Frech, A. Jentsch, M. Mürtz, C. Gmachl, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. L. Hutchinson, A. Y. Cho, W. Urban, “Investigation of the spectral width of quantum cascade laser emission near 5.2 µm by a heterodyne experiment,” Opt. Commun. 197, 127–130 (2001).
[CrossRef]

R. M. Williams, J. F. Kelly, J. S. Hartman, S. W. Sharpe, M. S. Taubman, J. L. Hall, F. Capasso, C. Gmachl, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. Y. Cho, “Kilohertz linewidth from frequency-stabilized mid-infrared quantum cascade lasers,” Opt. Lett. 24, 1844–1846 (1999).
[CrossRef]

S. W. Sharpe, J. F. Kelly, J. S. Hartman, C. Gmachl, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. Y. Cho, “Highresolution (Doppler-limited) spectroscopy using quantum-cascade distributed-feedback lasers,” Opt. Lett. 23, 1396–1398 (1998).
[CrossRef]

J. Faist, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, C. Sirtori, A. L. Hutchinson, A. Y. Cho, “Quantum cascade laser,” Science 264, 553–556 (1994).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Cho, A. Y.

H. Ganser, B. Frech, A. Jentsch, M. Mürtz, C. Gmachl, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. L. Hutchinson, A. Y. Cho, W. Urban, “Investigation of the spectral width of quantum cascade laser emission near 5.2 µm by a heterodyne experiment,” Opt. Commun. 197, 127–130 (2001).
[CrossRef]

R. M. Williams, J. F. Kelly, J. S. Hartman, S. W. Sharpe, M. S. Taubman, J. L. Hall, F. Capasso, C. Gmachl, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. Y. Cho, “Kilohertz linewidth from frequency-stabilized mid-infrared quantum cascade lasers,” Opt. Lett. 24, 1844–1846 (1999).
[CrossRef]

S. W. Sharpe, J. F. Kelly, J. S. Hartman, C. Gmachl, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. Y. Cho, “Highresolution (Doppler-limited) spectroscopy using quantum-cascade distributed-feedback lasers,” Opt. Lett. 23, 1396–1398 (1998).
[CrossRef]

J. Faist, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, C. Sirtori, A. L. Hutchinson, A. Y. Cho, “Quantum cascade laser,” Science 264, 553–556 (1994).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Courtois, D.

Espenak, F.

K. Fast, T. Kostiuk, P. Romani, F. Espenak, T. Hewagama, A. Betz, R. Boreiko, T. Livengood, “Temporal behavior of stratospheric ammonia abundance and temperature following the SL9 impacts,” Icarus 156, 485–497 (2002).
[CrossRef]

T. Kostiuk, K. Fast, T. Livengood, T. Hewagama, J. Goldstein, F. Espenak, D. Buhl, “Direct measurement of winds of Titan,” Geophys. Res. Lett. 28, 2361–2364 (2001).
[CrossRef]

Faist, J.

Fast, K.

K. Fast, T. Kostiuk, P. Romani, F. Espenak, T. Hewagama, A. Betz, R. Boreiko, T. Livengood, “Temporal behavior of stratospheric ammonia abundance and temperature following the SL9 impacts,” Icarus 156, 485–497 (2002).
[CrossRef]

T. Kostiuk, K. Fast, T. Livengood, T. Hewagama, J. Goldstein, F. Espenak, D. Buhl, “Direct measurement of winds of Titan,” Geophys. Res. Lett. 28, 2361–2364 (2001).
[CrossRef]

Frech, B.

H. Ganser, B. Frech, A. Jentsch, M. Mürtz, C. Gmachl, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. L. Hutchinson, A. Y. Cho, W. Urban, “Investigation of the spectral width of quantum cascade laser emission near 5.2 µm by a heterodyne experiment,” Opt. Commun. 197, 127–130 (2001).
[CrossRef]

Ganser, H.

H. Ganser, B. Frech, A. Jentsch, M. Mürtz, C. Gmachl, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. L. Hutchinson, A. Y. Cho, W. Urban, “Investigation of the spectral width of quantum cascade laser emission near 5.2 µm by a heterodyne experiment,” Opt. Commun. 197, 127–130 (2001).
[CrossRef]

Gmachl, C.

Goldstein, J.

T. Kostiuk, K. Fast, T. Livengood, T. Hewagama, J. Goldstein, F. Espenak, D. Buhl, “Direct measurement of winds of Titan,” Geophys. Res. Lett. 28, 2361–2364 (2001).
[CrossRef]

Hall, J. L.

Harter, M.

Hartman, J. S.

Hewagama, T.

K. Fast, T. Kostiuk, P. Romani, F. Espenak, T. Hewagama, A. Betz, R. Boreiko, T. Livengood, “Temporal behavior of stratospheric ammonia abundance and temperature following the SL9 impacts,” Icarus 156, 485–497 (2002).
[CrossRef]

T. Kostiuk, K. Fast, T. Livengood, T. Hewagama, J. Goldstein, F. Espenak, D. Buhl, “Direct measurement of winds of Titan,” Geophys. Res. Lett. 28, 2361–2364 (2001).
[CrossRef]

Hofstetter, D.

Hutchinson, A. L.

H. Ganser, B. Frech, A. Jentsch, M. Mürtz, C. Gmachl, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. L. Hutchinson, A. Y. Cho, W. Urban, “Investigation of the spectral width of quantum cascade laser emission near 5.2 µm by a heterodyne experiment,” Opt. Commun. 197, 127–130 (2001).
[CrossRef]

J. Faist, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, C. Sirtori, A. L. Hutchinson, A. Y. Cho, “Quantum cascade laser,” Science 264, 553–556 (1994).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Jentsch, A.

H. Ganser, B. Frech, A. Jentsch, M. Mürtz, C. Gmachl, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. L. Hutchinson, A. Y. Cho, W. Urban, “Investigation of the spectral width of quantum cascade laser emission near 5.2 µm by a heterodyne experiment,” Opt. Commun. 197, 127–130 (2001).
[CrossRef]

Johnson, M.

A. Betz, M. Johnson, R. McLaren, E. Sutton, “Heterodyne detection of CO2 emission lines and wind velocities in the atmosphere of Venus,” Astrophys. J. 208, L141–L144 (1976).
[CrossRef]

Joly, L.

Kelly, J. F.

Klumb, B.

Kostiuk, T.

K. Fast, T. Kostiuk, P. Romani, F. Espenak, T. Hewagama, A. Betz, R. Boreiko, T. Livengood, “Temporal behavior of stratospheric ammonia abundance and temperature following the SL9 impacts,” Icarus 156, 485–497 (2002).
[CrossRef]

T. Kostiuk, K. Fast, T. Livengood, T. Hewagama, J. Goldstein, F. Espenak, D. Buhl, “Direct measurement of winds of Titan,” Geophys. Res. Lett. 28, 2361–2364 (2001).
[CrossRef]

T. Kostiuk, M. J. Mumma, “Remote sensing by IR heterodyne spectroscopy,” Appl. Opt. 22, 2644–2654 (1983).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Livengood, T.

K. Fast, T. Kostiuk, P. Romani, F. Espenak, T. Hewagama, A. Betz, R. Boreiko, T. Livengood, “Temporal behavior of stratospheric ammonia abundance and temperature following the SL9 impacts,” Icarus 156, 485–497 (2002).
[CrossRef]

T. Kostiuk, K. Fast, T. Livengood, T. Hewagama, J. Goldstein, F. Espenak, D. Buhl, “Direct measurement of winds of Titan,” Geophys. Res. Lett. 28, 2361–2364 (2001).
[CrossRef]

McLaren, R.

A. Betz, M. Johnson, R. McLaren, E. Sutton, “Heterodyne detection of CO2 emission lines and wind velocities in the atmosphere of Venus,” Astrophys. J. 208, L141–L144 (1976).
[CrossRef]

Mumma, M. J.

Mürtz, M.

H. Ganser, B. Frech, A. Jentsch, M. Mürtz, C. Gmachl, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. L. Hutchinson, A. Y. Cho, W. Urban, “Investigation of the spectral width of quantum cascade laser emission near 5.2 µm by a heterodyne experiment,” Opt. Commun. 197, 127–130 (2001).
[CrossRef]

Parpillon, V.

Romani, P.

K. Fast, T. Kostiuk, P. Romani, F. Espenak, T. Hewagama, A. Betz, R. Boreiko, T. Livengood, “Temporal behavior of stratospheric ammonia abundance and temperature following the SL9 impacts,” Icarus 156, 485–497 (2002).
[CrossRef]

Schieder, R.

Schmülling, F.

Sharpe, S. W.

Sirtori, C.

J. Faist, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, C. Sirtori, A. L. Hutchinson, A. Y. Cho, “Quantum cascade laser,” Science 264, 553–556 (1994).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Sivco, D. L.

H. Ganser, B. Frech, A. Jentsch, M. Mürtz, C. Gmachl, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. L. Hutchinson, A. Y. Cho, W. Urban, “Investigation of the spectral width of quantum cascade laser emission near 5.2 µm by a heterodyne experiment,” Opt. Commun. 197, 127–130 (2001).
[CrossRef]

R. M. Williams, J. F. Kelly, J. S. Hartman, S. W. Sharpe, M. S. Taubman, J. L. Hall, F. Capasso, C. Gmachl, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. Y. Cho, “Kilohertz linewidth from frequency-stabilized mid-infrared quantum cascade lasers,” Opt. Lett. 24, 1844–1846 (1999).
[CrossRef]

S. W. Sharpe, J. F. Kelly, J. S. Hartman, C. Gmachl, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. Y. Cho, “Highresolution (Doppler-limited) spectroscopy using quantum-cascade distributed-feedback lasers,” Opt. Lett. 23, 1396–1398 (1998).
[CrossRef]

J. Faist, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, C. Sirtori, A. L. Hutchinson, A. Y. Cho, “Quantum cascade laser,” Science 264, 553–556 (1994).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Sonnabend, G.

G. Sonnabend, D. Wirtz, V. Vetterle, R. Schieder, “Highresolution observations of Martian non-thermal CO2 emission near 10 micron with a new tuneable heterodyne receiver,” Astron. Astrophys. 435, 1181–1184 (2005).
[CrossRef]

G. Sonnabend, D. Wirtz, F. Schmülling, R. Schieder, “Tuneable heterodyne infrared spectrometer for atmospheric and astronomical studies,” Appl. Opt. 41, 2978–2984 (2002).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Sutton, E.

A. Betz, M. Johnson, R. McLaren, E. Sutton, “Heterodyne detection of CO2 emission lines and wind velocities in the atmosphere of Venus,” Astrophys. J. 208, L141–L144 (1976).
[CrossRef]

Taubman, M. S.

Urban, W.

H. Ganser, B. Frech, A. Jentsch, M. Mürtz, C. Gmachl, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. L. Hutchinson, A. Y. Cho, W. Urban, “Investigation of the spectral width of quantum cascade laser emission near 5.2 µm by a heterodyne experiment,” Opt. Commun. 197, 127–130 (2001).
[CrossRef]

Vetterle, V.

G. Sonnabend, D. Wirtz, V. Vetterle, R. Schieder, “Highresolution observations of Martian non-thermal CO2 emission near 10 micron with a new tuneable heterodyne receiver,” Astron. Astrophys. 435, 1181–1184 (2005).
[CrossRef]

Vowinkel, B.

Weidmann, D.

Williams, R. M.

Winnewisser, G.

Wirtz, D.

G. Sonnabend, D. Wirtz, V. Vetterle, R. Schieder, “Highresolution observations of Martian non-thermal CO2 emission near 10 micron with a new tuneable heterodyne receiver,” Astron. Astrophys. 435, 1181–1184 (2005).
[CrossRef]

G. Sonnabend, D. Wirtz, F. Schmülling, R. Schieder, “Tuneable heterodyne infrared spectrometer for atmospheric and astronomical studies,” Appl. Opt. 41, 2978–2984 (2002).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Appl. Opt. (3)

Astron. Astrophys. (1)

G. Sonnabend, D. Wirtz, V. Vetterle, R. Schieder, “Highresolution observations of Martian non-thermal CO2 emission near 10 micron with a new tuneable heterodyne receiver,” Astron. Astrophys. 435, 1181–1184 (2005).
[CrossRef]

Astrophys. J. (1)

A. Betz, M. Johnson, R. McLaren, E. Sutton, “Heterodyne detection of CO2 emission lines and wind velocities in the atmosphere of Venus,” Astrophys. J. 208, L141–L144 (1976).
[CrossRef]

Geophys. Res. Lett. (1)

T. Kostiuk, K. Fast, T. Livengood, T. Hewagama, J. Goldstein, F. Espenak, D. Buhl, “Direct measurement of winds of Titan,” Geophys. Res. Lett. 28, 2361–2364 (2001).
[CrossRef]

Icarus (1)

K. Fast, T. Kostiuk, P. Romani, F. Espenak, T. Hewagama, A. Betz, R. Boreiko, T. Livengood, “Temporal behavior of stratospheric ammonia abundance and temperature following the SL9 impacts,” Icarus 156, 485–497 (2002).
[CrossRef]

Opt. Commun. (1)

H. Ganser, B. Frech, A. Jentsch, M. Mürtz, C. Gmachl, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, J. N. Baillargeon, A. L. Hutchinson, A. Y. Cho, W. Urban, “Investigation of the spectral width of quantum cascade laser emission near 5.2 µm by a heterodyne experiment,” Opt. Commun. 197, 127–130 (2001).
[CrossRef]

Opt. Lett. (3)

Science (1)

J. Faist, F. Capasso, D. L. Sivco, C. Sirtori, A. L. Hutchinson, A. Y. Cho, “Quantum cascade laser,” Science 264, 553–556 (1994).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Other (1)

F. Schmülling, “Entwicklung eines hochauflösenden Infrarot-Heterodynspektrometers mit einem Bleisalz Diodenlaser als Lokaloszillator,” Ph.D. dissertation (University of Cologne, 1997).

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Figures (4)

Fig. 1
Fig. 1

Direct heterodyne linewidth measurement of a cw QCL at 9.2 µm. The QCL emission was fed as a signal into a MIR heterodyne spectrometer. The spectral analysis was done by means of an acousto-optical spectrometer. The emission was fitted with a Gaussian. The calculated linewidth of 1.53 MHz reproduces the fluctuation bandwith of the spectrometer; therefore the laser line-width is well below 1.53 MHz.

Fig. 2
Fig. 2

QCL with an external grating cavity in a Littrow configuration. The QCL beam is collimated and sent to the grating. The first-order beam is reflected back into the laser. An etalon provides further mode selection. The external cavity can be tuned by turning the grating. A BaF2 beam splitter couples out ∼3.5% of the light that is sent to a spectrometer for analysis.

Fig. 3
Fig. 3

QCL running with (gray curve) and without (black curve) an external grating cavity. All but one mode are suppressed in feedback operation and the laser is forced to single-mode operation. The laser frequency can be selected by turning the grating. The power of the selected line is substantially increased by suppressing competing modes.

Fig. 4
Fig. 4

System performance of an IR heterodyne spectrometer with a CO2 laser (gray curve) and a QCL (black curve). The system temperature is nearly identical for both LOs over the whole frequency band. MCT, mercury cadmium telluride.

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