Mid-infrared lasers, emitting in the spectral region of 3-12 μm that contain strong characteristic vibrational transitions of many important molecules, are highly desirable for spectroscopy sensing applications. High efficiency quantum cascade lasers have been demonstrated with up to watt-level output power in the mid-infrared region. However, the wide wavelength tuning, which is critical for spectroscopy applications, is still largely relying on incorporating external gratings, which have stability issues. Here, we demonstrate the development a monolithic, widely tunable quantum cascade laser source emitting between 6.1 and 9.2 μm through an on-chip integration of a sampled grating distributed feedback tunable laser array with a beam combiner. A compact tunable laser system was built to drive the individual lasers within the array and coordinate the driving of the laser array to produce desired wavelength. A broadband spectral measurement (520cm-1) of methane shows excellent agreement with Fourier transform infrared spectrometer measurement. Further optimizations have led to high performance monolithic tunable QCLs with up to 65 mW output while delivering fundamental mode outputs.
We present recent progress on the development of monolithic, broadband, widely tunable midinfrared quantum cascade lasers. First, we show a broadband midinfrared laser gain realized by a heterogeneous quantum cascade laser based on a strain balanced composite well design of Al0.63In0.37As/Ga0.35In0.65As/Ga0.47In0.53As. Single mode emission between 5.9 and 10.9 μm under pulsed mode operation was realized from a distributed feedback laser array, which exhibited a flat current threshold across the spectral range. Using the broadband wafer, a monolithic tuning between 6.2 and 9.1 μm was demonstrated from a beam combined sampled grating distributed feedback laser array. The tunable laser was utilized for a fast sensing of methane under pulsed operation. Transmission spectra were obtained without any moving parts, which showed excellent agreement to a standard measurement made by a Fourier transform infrared spectrometer.