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Frequency Tuning and Modulation of a Quantum Cascade Laser with an Integrated Resistive Heater

Laboratoire Temps-Fréquence, Institut de Physique, Université de Neuchâtel, CH-2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Alpes Lasers SA, CH-2072 Saint-Blaise, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Photonics 2016, 3(3), 47;
Received: 23 June 2016 / Revised: 25 July 2016 / Accepted: 26 July 2016 / Published: 30 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quantum Cascade Lasers - Advances and New Applications)
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We present a detailed experimental investigation of the use of a novel actuator for frequency tuning and modulation in a quantum cascade laser (QCL) based on a resistive integrated heater (IH) placed close to the active region. This new actuator is attractive for molecular spectroscopy applications as it enables fast tuning of the QCL wavelength with a minor influence on the optical output power, and is electrically-controlled. Using a spectroscopic setup comprising a low-pressure gas cell, we measured the tuning and modulation properties of a QCL emitting at 7.8 μm as a function of the active region and IH currents. We show that a current step applied to the IH enables the laser frequency to be switched by 500 MHz in a few milliseconds, as fast as for a step of the current in the active region, and limited by heat dissipation towards the laser sub-mount. The QCL optical frequency can be modulated up to ~100 kHz with the IH current, which is one order of magnitude slower than for the QCL current, but sufficient for many spectroscopic applications. We discuss the experimental results using a thermal model of the heat transfer in terms of cascaded low-pass filters and extract the respective cut-off frequencies. Finally, we present a proof-of-principle experiment of wavelength modulation spectroscopy of a N2O transition performed with a modulation of the IH current and show some potential benefits in comparison to QCL current modulation, which results from the reduced associated amplitude modulation. View Full-Text
Keywords: quantum cascade laser; frequency tuning; modulation spectroscopy quantum cascade laser; frequency tuning; modulation spectroscopy

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Gürel, K.; Schilt, S.; Bismuto, A.; Bidaux, Y.; Tardy, C.; Blaser, S.; Gresch, T.; Südmeyer, T. Frequency Tuning and Modulation of a Quantum Cascade Laser with an Integrated Resistive Heater. Photonics 2016, 3, 47.

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