Researchers have nearly doubled the continuous output power of a type of laser, called a terahertz quantum cascade laser, with potential applications in medical imaging, airport security and more. Increasing the continuous output power of these lasers is an important step toward increasing the range of practical applications. The researchers report their results in the journal AIP Advances.
Terahertz radiation sits between microwaves and infrared light on the electromagnetic spectrum. It is relatively low-energy and can penetrate materials such as clothing, wood, plastic and ceramics. The unique qualitites of terahertz radiation make it an attractive candidiate for imaging, but the ability to produce and control terahertz waves has lagged behind technology for radio, microwave and visible light.
By optimizing the material growth and manufacturing process for terahertz QCLs, Wang and his team made a laser with an output power of up to 230 milliwatts in continuous wave mode beating the previous record was 138 milliwatts.