Laser made simpler, more powerful

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New York, Jan 8 (IANS) A team of US scientists has made ever-important laser simpler, more versatile and powerful by integrating a mid-infrared tunable laser with an on-chip amplifier.

Lasers play a major role in our everyday lives. The tool is uses in telecommunication to detect hazardous chemicals, keeps us connected, safe, and allows us to explore the dark corners of the universe.

The new architecture developed by the Northwestern University scientists allows adjustable wavelength output, modulators, and amplifiers to be held inside a single package, a university statement said.

This breakthrough has demonstrated an order-of-magnitude more output power than its predecessors, and the tuning range has been enhanced by more than a factor of two, it added.

“We have always been leaders in high-power and high-efficiency lasers,” said Manijeh Razeghi, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering, who led the study.

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“Combining an electrically tunable wavelength with high power output was the next logical extension,” he added.

With mid-infrared spectroscopy, a chemical can be identified through its unique absorption spectrum.

This greatly interests government agencies that aim to detect hazardous chemicals or possible explosive threats.

Because Razeghi’s new system is highly directional, the high power can be used more efficiently, allowing for the greater ability to detect chemicals.

It also allows for standoff application, which keeps personnel physically distant from potentially dangerous environments. The technology could also benefit free-space optical communications and aircraft protection.

The research has been described in a paper published online in the journal Applied Physics Letters.

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