Room-temperature laser-based semiconductor infrared sensor detects trace gases
Bell Labs-Lucent Technologies (Murray Hill, NJ) claims to have demonstrated the first laser-based semiconductor sensor that operates at room temperature and at high power. The prototype laser detects minute amounts, potentially parts per billion, of trace gases or pollutants by scanning for their optical-absorption "fingerprints." Alastair Glass, director of the Bell Labs Photonics Research Laboratory, says, "The tuning range and peak power of these prototype laser sensors are unprecedented for mid-infrared semiconductor lasers--about 10 and 100 times better, respectively, than commercial lasers of this type--all of which must be cooled." The experimental sensor is based on the quantum-cascade laser developed by Bell Labs.