We report broadly tunable terahertz (THz) sources based on intracavity Cherenkov difference-frequency generation in quantum cascade lasers transfer-printed on high-resistivity silicon substrates. Spectral tuning from 1.3 to 4.3 THz was obtained from a 2-mm long laser chip using a modified Littrow external cavity setup. The THz power output and the midinfrared-to-THz conversion efficiency of the devices transferred on silicon are dramatically enhanced, compared with the devices on a native semi-insulating InP substrate. Enhancement is particularly significant at higher THz frequencies, where the tail of the Reststrahlen band results in a strong absorption of THz light in the InP substrate.
We discuss novel approaches to improve the tuning bandwidth and power output of terahertz (THz) sources based on difference-frequency generation (DFG) in mid-infrared quantum cascade lasers (QCLs). Using a double Littrow external-cavity system, we experimentally demonstrate that both doubly-resonant terms and optical rectification terms in the expression for the intersubband optical nonlinearity contribute to THz generation in DFG-QCLs and report THz DFG-QCLs with the optimized optical rectification terms. We also demonstrate a hybrid DFG-QCL device on silicon that enables significant improvement on THz out-coupling efficiency and results in more than 5 times higher THz output power compared to that of a reference device on its native semi-insulating InP substrate. Finally, we report for the first time the THz emission linewidth of a free-running continuous-wave THz DFG-QCL.
We demonstrate that an application of a III-V-on-silicon hybrid concept to terahertz (THz) Cherenkov difference frequency generation (DFG) quantum cascade laser (QCL) sources (THz DFG-QCLs) can dramatically improve THz output power and mid-infrared-to-THz conversion efficiency. Completely processed THz DFG-QCLs grown on a 660-μm-thick native InP substrate are transfer-printed onto a 1-mm-thick high-resistive Si substrate using a 100-nm-thick SU-8 as an adhesive layer. Room temperature device performance of the reference InP and hybrid Si THz DFG-QCLs of the same ridge width (22 μm) and cavity length (4.2 mm) have been experimentally compared. The target THz frequency of 3.5 THz is selected for both devices using the dual-period first order surface gratings to select the mid-infrared pump wavelength of 994 cm-1 and 1110 cm-1. At the maximum bias current, the reference InP and hybrid Si devices produced THz power of 50 μW and 270 μW, respectively. The mid-infrared-to-THz conversion efficiency corresponds to 60 μW/W2 and 480 μW/W2, respectively, resulting in 5 times higher THz power and 8 times higher conversion efficiency from the best-performing hybrid devices. A hybrid Si device integrated in a Littrow external-cavity setup showed wavelength tuning from 1.3 THz to 4.3 THz with beam-steering free operation.
In this paper we review our results on high power quantum cascade lasers in the mid- and long-wave infrared regions of the spectrum (4-12um). The specifications and characteristics of state-of-the-art QC lasers fabricated by MOCVD technology are illustrated, along with their key application requirements and potential issues for future improvements. Single emitter QC lasers in the Watt-class range are presented and analyzed. In addition, we explore the use of high power QCLs for THz generation at room temperature by non-linear mixing of high power mid-infrared beams in a monolithic intra-cavity design. The THz radiation so obtained is widely tunable by electrical injection. Experimentally, we demonstrate ridge waveguide single mode devices electrically tunable between 3.44 and 4.02 THz.