Next-Generation Mid-Infrared Chemical and Biological Sensors: Combining Quantum Cascade Lasers with Thin-Film and Hollow Waveguides
January 01, 2017
Columns: Lasers and Optics Interface
Mid-infrared (MIR, 3-20 µm) sensor platforms are increasingly adopted in chem/bio analytics, and applied in areas ranging from process monitoring to medical diagnostics. Due to the inherent access to molecule-specific fingerprints via well-pronounced fundamental vibrational, rotational, and roto-vibrational transitions, quantitative information at ppm to ppb concentration levels and beyond is achievable in solids, liquids, and gases. In particular, the combination of quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) with correspondingly tailored waveguide technologies serving as optical transducers – thin-film waveguides for liquid/solid phase analysis, and substrate-integrated hollow waveguides for gaseous samples – facilitates miniaturizable and integrated optical chem/bio sensors and diagnostics applicable in, e.g., exhaled breath analysis, food safety, and environmental monitoring.