Researchers’ terahertz laser (THz laser) is the first to simultaneously achieve three key performance goals — high constant power, tight beam pattern, and broad electric frequency tuning. It could thus be helpful for a wide range of chemical sensing and imaging applications.
The improved THz laser will help to detect interstellar elements in a future NASA mission to learn more about the origins of our galaxy. The high-power photonic wire laser could also be used to improve skin and breast cancer imaging, detect drugs and explosives, and much more here on Earth.
The novel design of the THz laser forces multiple semiconductor-based, efficient wire lasers to “phase lock,” or sync oscillations. The sum of the outputs of the pairs along the array is combined to produce a single, high-power beam with minimal beam divergence. Individual coupled laser adjustments allow for broad frequency tuning to improve measurement resolution and fidelity. Obtaining all three performance metrics, according to the researchers, means less noise and higher resolution for more reliable and cost-effective chemical detection and medical imaging.
People have done laser frequency tuning or created lasers with high beam quality or continuous wave power. However, each design falls short in the other two areas. It is the first-time researchers have achieved all three metrics in chip-based terahertz lasers simultaneously (THz laser).