Mid-IR semiconductor lasers of two wavelength bands, 5.4 and 9.6 µm, are applied to measure aqueous glucose concentration ranging from 0 to 500 mg/dL with Intralipid® emulsion (0 to 8%) added as a fat simulator. The absorption coefficient µa is found linear with respect to glucose and Intralipid® concentrations, and their specific absorption coefficients are obtained via linear regression. These coefficients are subsequently used to infer the concentrations and compare with known values. The objective is to evaluate the method accuracy. Glucose concentration is determined within ±21 mg/dL with 90% confidence and ±32 mg/dL with 99% confidence, using <1-mJ laser energy. It is limited by the apparatus mechanical error and not the photometric system noise. The expected uncertainties due to photometric noise are ±6 and ±9 mg/dL with 90 and 99% confidence, respectively. The uncertainty is fully accounted for by the system intrinsic errors, allowing rigorous inference of the confidence level. Intralipid® is found to have no measurable effect on glucose determination. Further analysis suggests that a few mid-IR wavelengths may be sufficient, and that the laser technique offers advantages with regard to accuracy, speed, and sample volume, which can be small, ~0.4×10−7 mL for applications such as microfluidic or microbioarray monitoring.
This paper describes an application-centric development of broadly tunable and multi-spectral mid/long-wave IR semi-conductor lasers. Examples of various external-cavity lasers capable of broad, continuous wavelength tuning with type-I and type-II quantum cascade lasers are discussed. Laser configurations studied include conventional Littman-Metcalf, Littrow, multi-segment and Bragg-grating-coupled surface-emitting. All were capable of single-mode continuous tuning with high side-mode-suppression ratio. The lasers were evaluated with spectroscopic applications, which include wave-length-modulation spectroscopic imaging and multi-wavelength decomposition of a gas mixture. The results showed that these lasers were capable of maintaining wavelength accuracy and stability over the entire tuning range. Multi-spectral imaging with discrete wavelengths over a wide spectral range was also studied. The results with a modest 4-wavelength system demonstrated the potential application for target discrimination, detection, and identification. These results suggest potential value for broadly tunable, wide-band M/LWIR laser technology.
Infrared micro-spectroscopy is a useful tool for basic research and biomedical applications. Conventional microspectroscopic imaging apparatuses use thermal sources for sample illumination, which have low brightness, low optical spectral intensity, and high noise. This work evaluates the system engineering advantages of using mid-infrared semiconductor lasers that offer orders-of magnitude higher brightness, spectral intensity, and lower noise. A laser-based microscopic spectral imaging system with focal plane array detectors demonstrated a high signal-to-noise ratio (>20 dB) at video frame rate for a large illuminated area. Microscopic spectral imaging with fixed-wavelength and tunable lasers of 4.6, 6, and 9.3-μm wavelength was applied to a number of representative samples that consist of biological tissues (plant and animal) and solid material (a stack of laminated polymers). Transmission spectral images with ~30-dB dynamic range were obtained with clear evidence of spectral features for different samples. The potential of more advanced systems with a wide coverage of spectral bands is discussed.
Rupture of atherosclerotic plaques - the main cause of heart attach and stokes - is not predictable. Hence even treadmill stress tests fail to detect many persons at risk. Fatal plaques are found at autopsies to be associated with active inflammatory cells. Classically, inflammation is detected by its swelling, red color, pain and heat. We have found that heat accurately locates the dangerous plaques that are significantly warmer then atherosclerotic plaques without the same inflammation. In order to develop a non-surgical method of locating these plaques, an IR fiber optic imaging system has been developed in our laboratory to evalute the causes and effect of heat in atherosclerotic plaques. The fiber optical imagin bundle consists of 900 individual As2S3 chalcogenide glass fibers which transmit IR radiation from 0.7 micrometers 7 micrometers with little energy loss. By combining that with a highly sensitive Indium Antimonide IR focal plane array detector, we are able to obtain thermal graphic images in situ. The temperature heterogeneity of atherosclerotic plaques developed in the arteral of the experimental animal models is under study with the new device. The preliminary experimental results from the animal model are encouraging. The potential of using this new technology in diagnostic evaluation of the vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques is considerable.