Despite their name, heat-seeking missiles actually seek a characteristic infrared light given off by hot objects. Though invisible to the human eye, tiny detectors inside the missiles can detect this infrared light and use it for guidance.
To ensure the safety of aircraft, infrared countermeasure (IRCM) systems are used to confuse or blind the detectors. These systems require a high-power light source that can emit light at the correct wavelength. While various existing light sources may be able to succeed in disrupting the detectors, most are based on technology that is both bulky and expensive. Therefore, only a few military aircraft are now protected by IRCM systems. Developing a compact and inexpensive infrared light source will allow for widespread use of IRCMs, but it has proven to be a significant technical challenge.
A new type of diode laser, called the quantum cascade laser (QCL), may eventually change this situation. Diode lasers are inherently compact and suitable for mass-production, which has led to their widespread and low-cost use in everyday products, including CD and DVD players.
The Center for Quantum Devices (CQD) at Northwestern University, led by Manijeh Razeghi, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has recently made great strides in laser design, material growth and laser fabrication that have greatly increased the output power and power conversion efficiency of QCLs. The center has now demonstrated individual lasers emitting at wavelengths of 3.8 and 4 microns, capable of up to 1.6 watts of continuous output power at cryogenic temperatures. These lasers have a threshold current density of less than 400 A/cm2 and a power conversion efficiency of 10 percent.
With further development, the researchers at CQD hope to use laser arrays to achieve a continuous output of 10 watts or more. At this wavelength and power level, the lasers could be extremely useful for aircraft protection.
Another significant breakthrough is the ability to operate these 3.8 and 4 micron lasers at room temperature. Room temperature continuous-wave operation has been demonstrated from the same devices with up to 150 milliwatts of output power. This room temperature development makes the lasers attractive for other applications, including early detection of toxic industrial chemicals, explosives and chemical warfare agents.
Megan Fellman | EurekAlert!
Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy
24.03.2017 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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