Fourier optics for wavefront engineering and wavelength control of lasers
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CitationBlanchard, Romain. 2014. Fourier optics for wavefront engineering and wavelength control of lasers. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
AbstractSince their initial demonstration in 1994, quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) have become prominent sources of mid-infrared radiation. Over the years, a large scientific and engineering effort has led to a dramatic improvement in their efficiency and power output, with continuous wave operation at room temperature and Watt-level output power now standard. However, beyond this progress, new functionalities and capabilities need to be added to this compact source to enable its integration into consumer-ready systems. Two main areas of development are particularly relevant from an application standpoint and were pursued during the course of this thesis: wavelength control and wavefront engineering of QCLs. The first research direction, wavelength control, is mainly driven by spectroscopic applications of QCLs, such as trace gas sensing, process monitoring or explosive detection. We demonstrated three different capabilities, corresponding to different potential spectroscopic measurement techniques: widely tunable single longitudinal mode lasing, simultaneous lasing on multiple well-defined longitudinal modes, and simultaneous lasing over a broad and continuous range of the spectrum. The second research direction, wavefront engineering of QCLs, i.e. the improvement of their beam quality, is relevant for applications necessitating transmission of the QCL output over a large distance, for example for remote sensing or military countermeasures. To address this issue, we developed plasmonic lenses directly integrated on the facets of QCLs. The plasmonic structures designed are analogous to antenna arrays imparting directionality to the QCLs, as well as providing means for polarization control. Finally, a research interest in plasmonics led us to design passive flat optical elements using plasmonic antennas. All these projects are tied together by the involvement of Fourier analysis as an essential design tool to predict the interaction of light with various gratings and periodic arrays of grooves and scatterers.
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