All solid state mid-infrared dual-comb spectroscopy platform based on QCL technology

Year: 2015

Authors: Hugi A., Geiser M., Villares G., Cappelli F., Blaser S., Faist J.

Autors Affiliation: IRsweep GmbH, Burgstrasse 20, Zurich, CH-8037, Switzerland; Institute for Quantum Electronics, ETH Zurich, Zurich, CH-8093, Switzerland; CNR-INO – Istituto Nazionale di Ottica, LENS – European Laboratory for Non-Linear Spectroscopy, Via Nello Carrara 1, Sesto Fiorentino FI, 50019, Italy; Alpes Lasers SA, 1-3 Max.-de-Meuron, C.P. 1766, Neuchtel, CH-2000, Switzerland

Abstract: We develop a spectroscopy platform for industrial applications based on semiconductor quantum cascade laser (QCL) frequency combs. The platform\’s key features will be an unmatched combination of bandwidth of 100 cm-1, resolution of 100 kHz, speed of ten to hundreds of µs as well as size and robustness, opening doors to beforehand unreachable markets. The sensor can be built extremely compact and robust since the laser source is an all-electrically pumped semiconductor optical frequency comb and no mechanical elements are required. However, the parallel acquisition of dual-comb spectrometers comes at the price of enormous data-rates. For system scalability, robustness and optical simplicity we use free-running QCL combs. Therefore no complicated optical locking mechanisms are required. To reach high signal-to-noise ratios, we develop an algorithm, which is based on combination of coherent and non-coherent averaging. This algorithm is specifically optimized for free-running and small footprint, therefore high-repetition rate, comb sources. As a consequence, our system generates data-rates of up to 3.2 GB/sec. These data-rates need to be reduced by several orders of magnitude in real-time in order to be useful for spectral fitting algorithms. We present the development of a data-treatment solution, which reaches a single-channel throughput of 22% using a standard laptop-computer. Using a state-of-the art desktop computer, the throughput is increased to 43%. This is combined with a data-acquisition board to a stand-alone data processing unit, allowing real-time industrial process observation and continuous averaging to achieve highest signal fidelity.

Conference title:

KeyWords: dual-comb spectroscopy; frequency comb; QCL; Quantum cascade laser; semiconductor; sensing