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Quantum cascade lasers (QCL) for active hyperspectral imaging

: Yang, Q.K.; Fuchs, F.; Wagner, J.


Advanced Optical Technologies 3 (2014), Nr.2, S.141-150
ISSN: 2192-8584
ISSN: 2192-8576
Fraunhofer IAF ()
active hyperspectral imaging; quantum cascade laser

There is an increasing demand for wavelength agile laser sources covering the mid-infrared (MIR, 3.5-12 µm)wavelength range, among others in active imaging. The MIR range comprises a particularly interesting part of the electromagnetic spectrum for active hyperspectral imaging applications, due to the fact that the characteristic "fingerprint" absorption spectra of many chemical compounds lie in that range. Conventional semiconductor diode laser technology runs out of steam at such long wavelengths. For many applications, MIR coherent light sources based on solid state lasers in combination with optical parametric oscillators are too complex and thus bulky and expensive. In contrast, quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) constitute a class of very compact and robust semiconductor-based lasers, which are able to cover the mentioned wavelength range using the same semiconductor material system. In this tutorial, a brief review will be given on the state-of-the-art of QCL technology. Special emphasis will be addressed on QCL variants with well-defined spectral properties and spectral tunability. As an example for the use of wavelength agile QCL for active hyperspectral imaging, stand-off detection of explosives based on imaging backscattering laser spectroscopy will be discussed.