Passively Mode-Locked Interband Cascade Optical Frequency Combs
Journal Article - Open Access
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB WASHINGTON DC WASHINGTON United States
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Since their inception, optical frequency combs have transformed a broad range of technical and scientific disciplines, spanning time keeping to navigation. Recently, dual comb spectroscopy has emerged as an attractive alternative to traditional Fourier transform spectroscopy, since it offers higher measurement sensitivity in a fraction of the time. Midwave infrared mid-IR frequency combs are especially promising as an effective means for probing the strong fundamental absorption lines of numerous chemical and biological agents. Mid-IR combs have been realized via frequency down-conversion of a near-IR comb, by optical pumping of a micro-resonator, and beyond 7 mu m by four-wave mixing in a quantum cascade laser. In this work, we demonstrate an electrically-driven frequency comb source that spans more than 1 THz of bandwidth centered near 3.6 mu m. This is achieved by passively mode-locking an interband cascade laser ICL with gain and saturable absorber sections monolithically integrated on the same chip. The new source will significantly enhance the capabilities of mid-IR multi-heterodyne frequency comb spectroscopy systems.