Optics express

Intracavity widely-tunable quantum cascade laser spectrometer.

PMID 23389142


A grating-tuned extended-cavity quantum cascade laser (EC-QCL) operating around 7.6 µm was assembled to provide a tuning range of ~80 cm⁻¹ with output power of up to 30 mW. The EC-QCL output power was shown to be sensitive to the presence of a broadband absorbing gas mixture contained in a 2-cm cell introduced inside the extended laser cavity. In this arrangement, enhanced absorption relative to single path linear absorption was observed. To describe observations, in the QCL rate-equation model was included the effect of intracavity absorption. The model qualitatively reproduced the absorption behavior observed. In addition, it allowed quantitative measurements of mixing ratio of dimethyl carbonate, which was used as a test broadband absorber. A number of alternative data acquisition and reduction methods were identified. As the intracavity absorber modifies the laser threshold current, phase-sensitive detection of the laser threshold current was found to be the most attractive way to determine the mixing ratio of the absorber. The dimethyl carbonate detection limit was estimated to be 1.4 ppmv for 10 second integration. Limitations and possible ways of improvements were also identified.

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