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Monolithic Dual-Band Quantum Cascade Laser



OBJECTIVE: Develop a monolithic dual-band quantum cascade laser platform with almost beam diffraction limited output power >3 Watts each in the 4.6-5 and 3.6-4.2 micrometer bands.

DESCRIPTION: High-power, cost-effective, compact, and reliable mid-wave infrared (MWIR) Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) platforms operating in the continuous wave (CW) regime are highly desirable for current and future Navy applications. Individual QCLs emitting within the 4.6-5 micrometer wavelength band with about 5 Watts CW output power and a wall-plug efficiency of about 20% at room temperature (RT) have been demonstrated [Ref. 1]. There is another, shorter MWIR spectral band between 3.6 and 4.2 micrometers [Ref. 2] that is also of interest for Naval applications. The atmospheric transmission in this band is about 45% to 50% higher than that of the 4.6-5 micron spectral band. Currently both QCLs emitting in both of the MWIR bands are beam-combined using external optical elements for current Naval applications.While the current external beam combination configuration’s size and weight may be adequate for current platform applications, other aerial platforms such as compact rotary-wing aircraft and/or smaller unmanned aerial vehicles can benefit from a laser source that is at least 20 times smaller and lighter. A monolithic laser chip platform with a single optical output aperture emitting in both wave bands using a single laser driver electronics would minimize the overall laser size, weight, and cost as stated in the specifications below. Therefore, the goal of this SBIR topic is to develop a monolithic dual-band QCL-based source that meets the following performance specifications:1. Room-temperature CW optical power over 3W each in the 4.6-5 and 3.6-4.2 micrometer bands2. QCL package volume less 1 cm33. QCL package weight less than 100 grams4. Wallplug efficiency exceeding 15%5. Almost diffraction limited beam quality factor with M2 < 1.5Priority will be given to solutions minimizing weight and size, while meeting the optical power and efficiency requirement.

PHASE I: Develop and demonstrate the feasibility of a viable, robust, and manufacturable design for a single dual-band QCL source that meets or exceeds the requirements specified. Identify technological and reliability challenges of the design approach, and propose viable risk mitigation strategies.The Phase I effort will include prototype plans to be developed in Phase II.

PHASE II: Design, fabricate, and demonstrate a packaged dual-band laser prototype based on the design from Phase I. Test and fully characterize the laser prototype to assess its performance. Report performance results.

PHASE III: Fully develop and transition the high performance QCL with the specifications stated in Phase II for DoD applications in the areas of Directed Infrared Countermeasures, advanced chemicals sensors, and Laser Detection and Ranging. The DoD has a need for advanced, compact, high performance MWIR QCL In Band IVA (3.8–4.1 micron) and Band IVB (4.6–5) micrometer bands combined emissions from a single laser aperture that can be readily scaled via beam combining for current and future generation DIRCMs, LIDARs, and chemicals/explosives sensing. The commercial sector can also benefit from this crucial, game-changing technology development in the areas of detection of toxic gases, environmental monitoring, and non-invasive health monitoring and sensing.

KEYWORDS: Quantum Cascade Lasers, QCL, Band IVA, Band IVB, 3.8 Micron, 4.1 Micron, 4.6 Micron, Midwave-Infrared, Laser Array


1. Bai, Y., Bandyopadhyay, N., Tsao, S., Slivken, S. & Razeghi, M. “Room Temperature Quantum Cascade Lasers with 27% Wall Plug Efficiency.” Applied Physics Letters, 2011. 2. Lyakh, A., Maulini, R., Tsekoun, A., Go, R., Von der Porten, S., Pflugl, C., . . . and Patel, C. “High-Performance Continuous-Wave Room Temperature 4.0-µm Quantum Cascade Lasers with Single-Facet Optical Emission Exceeding 2 W.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2010.

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