Applied Optoelectronics Inc. (AOI; Sugarland, TX), a manufacturer of semiconductor optoelectronic devices, has signed a nonexclusive licensing agreement with Lucent Technologies Inc. to manufacture and distribute the quantum-cascade (QC) laser. The agreement marks the first time Lucent has licensed this technology. The QC laser, invented in 1994 at Bell Laboratories by Federico Capasso, Alfred Cho, and their collaborators, operates in the midinfrared region of the spectrum, in which it has previously been difficult for scientists to create high-efficiency lasers. This spectral region is particularly useful for sensitive detection of pollutants, industrial chemicals, explosives, and medically important substances.
A QC laser system, including the laser active element and the necessary cooling equipment, can be made as small as a few cubic inches and will cost a fraction of the price of a solid-state device. Quantum-cascade lasers are the first midinfrared semiconductor lasers that operate at room temperature with output power as high as 0.5 W. The devices can be tuned over quite a broad wavelength range (~ 70-nm) with a fairly large temperature change (> 200fC). At any given temperature, they can be tuned across about 0.1 nm by changing the operating current.
"The QC laser expands the range of wavelengths available to our customers, allowing us to provide 'one-stop' shopping for engineers looking for compact and reliable semiconductor lasers with emission wavelengths spanning essentially the entire mid-infrared region, from 2 to beyond 12 microns," said Stefan Murry, senior engineer and marketing manager for AOI.
Applied Optoelectronics, founded in 1997 as an outgrowth of the University of Houston's Space Vacuum Epitaxy Center, provides lasers and photodetectors for applications such as diabetic glucose monitoring, atmospheric remote sensing, semiconductor-processing equipment, and environmental impact assessment.