Low power consumption lasers for next generation miniature optical spectrometers for major constituent and trace gas analysis
The air quality of any manned spacecraft needs to be continuously monitored in order to safeguard the health of the crew. Air quality monitoring grows in importance as mission duration increases. Due to the small size, low power draw, and performance reliability, semiconductor laser-based instruments are viable candidates for this purpose. The minimum instrument size requires lasers with emission wavelength coinciding with the absorption of the fundamental frequency of the target gases which are mostly in the 3.0-5.0 m wavelength range. In this paper we report on our progress developing high wall plug efficiency type-I quantum-well GaSb-based diode lasers operating at room temperatures in the spectral region near 3.0-3.5 m and quantum cascade (QC) lasers in the 4.0-5.0 m range. These lasers will enable the development of miniature, low-power laser spectrometers for environmental monitoring of the spacecraft.