Compact terahertz source operates at room temperature continuous wave

March 30, 2016 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Northwestern University's Manijeh Razeghi has developed a compact room temperature continuous wave, highly tunable, high-power terahertz source. As a security detection device it has the ability to detect explosives, chemical agents, and dangerous biological substances from safe distances – making public spaces more secure than ever.

This is in contrast to current terahertz sources, which are large, multi-component systems that sometimes require complex vacuum systems, external pump lasers, and even cryogenic cooling. The unwieldy devices are heavy, expensive, and hard to transport, operate, and maintain.

"A single-component solution capable of room temperature continuous wave and widely frequency tunable operation is highly desirable to enable next generation terahertz systems," said Razeghi, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering.

Director of Northwestern's Center for Quantum Devices, Razeghi and her team have demonstrated a room temperature continuous wave, highly tunable, high-power terahertz source. Based on nonlinear mixing in quantum cascade lasers, the source can emit up to multi-milliwatts of power and has a wide frequency coverage of one-to-five terahertz in pulsed mode operation.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, Department of Homeland Security, Naval Air Systems Command, and NASA, the research was published on March 25 in Nature Scientific Reports. This latest research builds on Razeghi group's many years of research with Northwestern's Center for Quantum Devices, including the development of the first single mode room temperature terahertz laser in 2011.

www.northwestern.edu