Understanding Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL)Technology

For a relatively new technology, a quantum cascade laser analyzer is quite promising.

The Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) is a powerful technology with a valuable and limitless potential in different fields of science. Compared to other measurement techniques, QCLs are highly accurate, low-maintenance, and have a far longer life cycle.

Recently, an increasing amount of manufacturers have designed better, more robust, and more manufacturable QCLs. Improved modeling and design optimization involving simulation tools have further enhanced the device. This is a huge step in QCL control technology, which can introduce potential advancements in spectroscopy, chemical and biological detection, nanoelectronics, and optical communication technology.

What are QCLs?

QCLS were first invented and manufactured at Bell Laboratories in the late ’70s by physicists Frederic Capasso, Deborah Sivco, Albert Hutchinson, Alfred Cho, Carlo Sirtori, and Jerome Faist. Unlike other traditional lasers that use transition between atomic levels, QCLs uses electron transitions between quantum levels. Thanks to their compact form and versatility, QCLs have become the primary laser sources in mid-infrared spectrums.

Since its commercialization in 1998, QCLs have been used in remote sensing of gases and pollutants in the atmosphere. Improved designs are also being studied for explosive detection, cruise control, and collision avoidance radars. Scientists have also envisioned portable breath analyzers that can be used to diagnose sicknesses through the help of QCL. Today, QCL research is directed in the field of plasmonics, nanoelectronics, and quantum engineering.

Advantages of Using QCL Technology

  1. High-Resolution Spectroscopy – QCL is considered the most valuable tool in the evaluation of molecular structures. Using a patented laser chip, it can detect a range of molecules in varying ranges of spectroscopic light.
  2. High-Accuracy Measurement – QCL analyzers offer precise measurements of concentration, including impurities, down to low Power Measuring Module (PMM) levels. The creation of QCL is based on the tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy (TDLAS) principle, which provides a precise and selective gas monitoring. Compared to traditional lasers, QCLs can be calibrated to an extensive range of infrared wavelengths, which makes them extremely useful in detecting toxic gases in the atmosphere.
  3. Cost Efficiency – QCLs can simultaneously measure up to 12 components. They don’t need any consumables. They also seldom need calibration, resulting in reduced operating costs.

The quantum cascade laser analyzer is a useful technology in the fields of physics, ecology, medicine, and beyond. Through continuous research, QCLs are further improved and their full potential are being discovered and gradually realized.

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