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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: C. Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 19, Iss. 2 — Jan. 17, 2011
  • pp: 1122–1130
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High efficiency coupling of Terahertz micro-ring quantum cascade lasers to the low-loss optical modes of hollow metallic waveguides

Miriam S. Vitiello, Ji-Hua Xu, Mirgender Kumar, Fabio Beltram, Alessandro Tredicucci, Oleg Mitrofanov, Harvey E. Beere, and David A. Ritchie  »View Author Affiliations


Optics Express, Vol. 19, Issue 2, pp. 1122-1130 (2011)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OE.19.001122


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Abstract

We demonstrate that azimuthally polarized surface emitting Terahertz quantum cascade lasers fabricated in a micro-ring resonator geometry can be coupled to cylindrical hollow aluminum waveguides reaching efficiencies as high ≈98%, when a collimating lens is used. By placing the waveguide in close contact with the QCL in a simple back-to-back geometry, the laser mode can be perfectly matched with the low loss TE01 waveguide mode showing attenuation losses as low as ≈2.3-2.7 dB/m at 3.2 THz.

© 2011 OSA

1. Introduction

The far infrared or Terahertz (THz) region of the electromagnetic spectrum bridges the gap between the microwave and optical regimes, offering a great potential in many scientific, technological and industrial fields.

Efficient and miniaturized quantum cascade (QC) sources operating in the THz range have been successfully developed in the last few years and implemented in heterodyne [1

1. J. R. Gao, J. N. Hovenier, Z. Q. Yang, J. J. A. Baselmans, A. Baryshev, M. Hajenius, T. M. Klapwijk, A. J. L. Adam, T. O. Klaassen, B. S. Williams, S. Kumar, Q. Hu, and J. L. Reno, “Terahertz heterodyne receiver based on a quantum cascade laser and a superconducting bolometer,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 86(24), 244104 (2005). [CrossRef]

,2

2. H. W. Hübers, S. Pavlov, A. Semenov, R. Köhler, L. Mahler, A. Tredicucci, H. Beere, D. Ritchie, and E. Linfield, “Terahertz quantum cascade laser as local oscillator in a heterodyne receiver,” Opt. Express 13(15), 5890–5896 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

] or imaging systems [3

3. A. W. M. Lee, Q. Qin, S. Kumar, B. S. Williams, Q. Hu, and J. L. Reno, “Real-time terahertz imaging over a standoff distance (>25 meters),” Appl. Phys. Lett. 89(14), 141125 (2006). [CrossRef]

,4

4. S. Kumar and A. W. M. Lee, “Resonant-phonon terahertz quantum-cascade lasers and video-rate terahertz imaging,” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 14(2), 333–344 (2008). [CrossRef]

] for spectroscopy and security applications. Despite their cryogenic operation temperatures in the Terahertz [5

5. B. S. Williams, “Terahertz quantum-cascade lasers,” Nat. Photonics 1(9), 517–525 (2007). [CrossRef]

], quantum cascade lasers have indeed attracted considerable attention thanks to the high output power, spectral purity, stability, compactness and reliability.

Terahertz QCL resonators are conventionally based on surface-plasmon waveguides, either in single metal [6

6. R. Köhler, A. Tredicucci, F. Beltram, H. E. Beere, E. H. Linfield, A. G. Davies, D. A. Ritchie, R. C. Iotti, and F. Rossi, “Terahertz semiconductor-heterostructure laser,” Nature 417(6885), 156–159 (2002). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

], or double-metal configuration [5

5. B. S. Williams, “Terahertz quantum-cascade lasers,” Nat. Photonics 1(9), 517–525 (2007). [CrossRef]

]. Low divergence, high power double-metal devices working in the range 2-4 THz have been recently realized by employing horn antennas [7

7. M. I. Amanti, M. Fischer, C. Walther, G. Scalari, and J. Faist, “Horn antennas for terahertz quantum cascade lasers,” Electron. Lett. 43(10), 573–574 (2007). [CrossRef]

,8

8. W. Maineult, P. Gellie, A. Andronico, P. Filloux, G. Leo, C. Sirtori, S. Barbieri, E. Peytavit, T. Akalin, J.-F. Lampin, H. E. Beere, and D. A. Ritchie, “Metal-metal terahertz quantum cascade laser with micro-transverse-electromagnetic-horn antenna,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 93(18), 183508 (2008). [CrossRef]

], hyperhemispherical silicon lenses [9

9. A. Wei Min Lee, Q. Qin, S. Kumar, B. S. Williams, Q. Hu, and J. L. Reno, “High-power and high-temperature THz quantum-cascade lasers based on lens-coupled metal-metal waveguides,” Opt. Lett. 32(19), 2840–2842 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

], photonic crystals [10

10. Y. Chassagneux, R. Colombelli, W. Maineult, S. Barbieri, H. E. Beere, D. A. Ritchie, S. P. Khanna, E. H. Linfield, and A. G. Davies, “Electrically pumped photonic-crystal terahertz lasers controlled by boundary conditions,” Nature 457(7226), 174–178 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

] 3rd-order [11

11. M. I. Amanti, M. Fischer, G. Scalari, M. Beck, and J. Faist, “Low-divergence single-mode terahertz quantum cascade laser,” Nat. Photonics 3(10), 586–590 (2009). [CrossRef]

] or 2rd-order distributed feedback gratings [12

12. S. Kumar, B. S. Williams, Q. Qin, A. W. Lee, Q. Hu, and J. L. Reno, “Surface-emitting distributed feedback terahertz quantum-cascade lasers in metal-metal waveguides,” Opt. Express 15(1), 113–128 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

14

14. L. Mahler, A. Tredicucci, F. Beltram, C. Walther, J. Faist, H. E. Beere, and D. A. Ritchie, “High-power surface emission from terahertz distributed feedback lasers with a dual-slit unit cell,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 96(19), 191109 (2010). [CrossRef]

] as well as micro-disk [15

15. L. Mahler, A. Tredicucci, F. Beltram, C. Walther, J. Faist, B. Witzigmann, H. E. Beere, and D. A. Ritchie, “Vertically emitting microdisk lasers,” Nat. Photonics 3(1), 46–49 (2009). [CrossRef]

] or micro-ring [16

16. L. Mahler, M. I. Amanti, C. Walther, A. Tredicucci, F. Beltram, J. Faist, H. E. Beere, and D. A. Ritchie, “Distributed feedback ring resonators for vertically emitting terahertz quantum cascade lasers,” Opt. Express 17(15), 13031–13039 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

,17

17. E. Mujagić, C. Deutsch, H. Detz, P. Klang, M. Nobile, A. M. Andrews, W. Schrenk, K. Unterrainer, and G. Strasser, “Vertically emitting terahertz quantum cascade ring lasers,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 95(1), 011120 (2009). [CrossRef]

] resonators for vertical emission. The latter approach is particularly appealing since surface emitting devices are easy to fabricate, show regular beam profiles and high output power also in an array configuration and allow two-dimensional integration and on-chip testing.

Despite the considerable advances in the development of compact and efficient THz sources, detectors and systems, the realization of optical components to control THz waves in this intermediate spectral region still remains a challenge. Specifically, to move THz technology toward component integration, more effort is required to improve the mechanisms to confine light in specified areas (resonant cavities), filter certain frequencies (optical filters) and, in particular, to direct the propagation of terahertz light (optical waveguides).

Neither conventional metal waveguides for microwave radiation, nor dielectric fibers for visible and near-infrared radiation can be used to guide terahertz waves over a long distance owing to the high Ohmic losses in metals or the high absorption coefficient in most dielectric materials in this spectral range. Terahertz waveguides with low transmission losses and small group velocity dispersion have been recently demonstrated in several geometries including photonic crystal waveguides [18

18. H. Han, H. Park, M. Cho, and J. Kim, “Terahertz pulse propagation in a plastic photonic crystal fiber,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 80(15), 2634–2636 (2002). [CrossRef]

], single [19

19. K. Wang and D. M. Mittleman, “Metal wires for terahertz wave guiding,” Nature 432(7015), 376–379 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

] or double metal [20

20. M. Mbonye, R. Mendis, and D. M. Mittleman, “A Terahertz two-wire waveguide with low bending loss,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 95(23), 233506 (2009). [CrossRef]

] wires transmitting a surface wave, and hollow waveguides including metal tubes [21

21. R. W. McGowan, G. Gallot, and D. Grischkowsky, “Propagation of ultrawideband short pulses of terahertz radiation through submillimeter-diameter circular waveguides,” Opt. Lett. 24(20), 1431–1433 (1999). [CrossRef]

], dielectric tubes [22

22. T. Hidaka, H. Minamide, H. Ito, S. Maeta, and T. Akiyama, “Ferroelectric PVDF cladding terahertz waveguide,” in Optical Information, Data Processing and Storage, and Laser Communication Technologies J.-P. Goedgebuer, N. N.Rozanov, S. K. Turitsyn, A. S. Akhmanov, and V. Y. Panchenko, eds., Proc. SPIE 5135, 70–77 (2003).

], and plastic tubing with an inner metal coating and/or dielectric coating [23

23. J. A. Harrington, R. George, P. Pedersen, and E. Mueller, “Hollow polycarbonate waveguides with inner Cu coatings for delivery of terahertz radiation,” Opt. Express 12(21), 5263–5268 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

,24

24. B. Bowden, J. A. Harrington, and O. Mitrofanov, “Low-loss modes in hollow metallic terahertz waveguides with dielectric coatings,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 93(18), 181104 (2008). [CrossRef]

].

In a hollow waveguide the wave energy is mostly distributed in the air region and only a small fraction propagates inside the absorbing medium. Because the terahertz waves are strongly confined within their core, hollow waveguides can be inserted in cables, and this will be an advantage especially in medical endoscopic applications.

Losses in the hollow metallic waveguides arise from the non-vanishing electric field component at the metallic surface that penetrates and is absorbed in the waveguide wall. As a result, transmission losses of pure metallic waveguides are in general limited to 8-10 dB/m in the THz range [25

25. T. Ito, Y. Matsuura, M. Miyagi, H. Minamide, and H. Ito, “Flexible Terahertz fiber optics with low bending-induced losses,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 24(5), 1230 (2007). [CrossRef]

]. In a hollow cylindrical metallic waveguide two modes have low loss characteristics, i.e. the linearly polarized TE11 mode and the lowest losses azimuthally polarized TE01 mode that however is not easily excited by linearly polarized THz sources [24

24. B. Bowden, J. A. Harrington, and O. Mitrofanov, “Low-loss modes in hollow metallic terahertz waveguides with dielectric coatings,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 93(18), 181104 (2008). [CrossRef]

]. The losses for the linearly polarized mode can be reduced by adding a thin (~λ/10) dielectric coating to the inner core via liquid flow coating processes. The waveguide dominant mode structure in the dielectric-lined waveguide will change from TE11 to the hybrid HE11 mode that exhibits minimal penetration into the absorbing metallic wall, assuring transmission losses lower than 1 dB/m [24

24. B. Bowden, J. A. Harrington, and O. Mitrofanov, “Low-loss modes in hollow metallic terahertz waveguides with dielectric coatings,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 93(18), 181104 (2008). [CrossRef]

]. For the pure metallic waveguide however propagation in the TE01 mode offers a significant loss reduction compared to the TE11 mode, especially at high frequencies (ν > 2 THz).

The selection of a preferential waveguide mode is a crucial issue for a complete loss and dispersion analysis of waveguides. The conventional procedure employed for the optical characterization of a THz waveguide is based on the measurement of the waveguide transmission spectra by THz time domain spectroscopy (TDS). THz TDS, however, doesn’t facilitate mode selection and, as a result, experimental spectra often contain periodic patterns caused by waveguide mode interference.

In the present work, we demonstrate that the THz light of an azimuthally polarized micro-ring QCL can be coupled with a simple hollow metallic waveguide exhibiting a very high efficiency (> 96%) when the waveguide diameter is twice as large as the QCL ring diameter. We demonstrate a simple experimental approach that allows studying the mode-specific dispersion characteristics in THz hollow waveguides, by alternatively focusing a coherent THz beam at the waveguide entrance or shining the unfocused QCL beam in a waveguide mounted in close contact with it. Specifically, we analyze the TE01 and TE11 mode profiles and the corresponding transmission losses in cylindrical aluminum waveguides and show that by using a back-to-back configuration the propagation losses can be reduced to values < 3dB/m even in the 3-4 THz range.

2. Fabrication and experimental set-up

Aluminum cylinders having lengths in the range 1 cm-7 cm and bore diameters d >> λ and d ≈λ have been employed to couple in the THz beam of both edge emitting and surface emitting THz QC sources operating in the range 3.2 – 3.9 THz.

Sample (a) is an azimuthally polarized micro-ring distributed feedback QCL operating at 3.2 THz based on a double metal optical waveguide. The active region design features a 200 stage resonant-phonon structure; details on the fabrication procedure are described in Ref. 16

16. L. Mahler, M. I. Amanti, C. Walther, A. Tredicucci, F. Beltram, J. Faist, H. E. Beere, and D. A. Ritchie, “Distributed feedback ring resonators for vertically emitting terahertz quantum cascade lasers,” Opt. Express 17(15), 13031–13039 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

. After substrate thinning, micro-ring devices, having a diameter dr = 990 μm, were soldered to copper bars with an In/Ag alloy and wire bonded taking care to distribute uniformly 6 bonding wires along the ring. The latter procedure allows having single mode operation and constant polarization along the whole QCL ring. Sample (b) has the same active region and waveguide configuration of sample (a) and has been processed with an identical photolithographic procedure. However, in the latter case, the outcoming light is not uniform along the ring and shows a more pronounced linear polarization component, likely owing to the slight misalignment of the top metallic layer with the semiconductor ring [16

16. L. Mahler, M. I. Amanti, C. Walther, A. Tredicucci, F. Beltram, J. Faist, H. E. Beere, and D. A. Ritchie, “Distributed feedback ring resonators for vertically emitting terahertz quantum cascade lasers,” Opt. Express 17(15), 13031–13039 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. Sample (c) is a linearly polarized edge emitting QCL operating at 3.9 THz and fabricated in a single-plasmon optical waveguide. The active region design and the fabrication procedure of the latter device are reported in Ref. 26

26. T. Losco, J. Xu, R. P. Green, A. Tredicucci, H. E. Beere, and D. A. Ritchie, “THz quantum cascade designs for optimized injection,” Physica E 40(6), 2207–2209 (2008). [CrossRef]

.

The lasers were mounted on the cold finger of a continuous-flow liquid-helium cryostat for the measurements. Lasing spectra were recorded by focusing the QCL beam with an f/1 Picarin lens in a Fourier transform infrared spectrometer working in rapid scan mode and collected with a DTGS detector at the maximum resolution of 0.125 cm−1. Figure 1a
Fig. 1 (a) Measured laser spectra of samples (a) and (b) driven with 200 ns pulses at 5 kHz repetition rate at a current of 2.04 A (sample a) and 2.14 A (sample b), respectively. The inset shows a scanning electron microscope (SEM) picture of a fabricated device. (b) Multimode pulsed emission spectra of sample c) driven with 200 ns pulses at 5 kHz repetition rate at a current of 1.62A.
shows the laser spectra of sample (a) and (b) collected by driving the devices with 200 ns pulses at 5 kHz repetition rate at a current of 2.04 A (sample a) and 2.14 A (sample b), respectively. Figure 1b shows the multimode pulsed emission spectra of sample (c) driven at a current of 1.62A under the same experimental conditions.

To couple the QCL beam into the hollow waveguide we follow two distinct experimental approaches, schematically sketched in Fig. 2a
Fig. 2 Schematics of the experimental set-ups employed to couple the micro-ring QCL beam through the hollow waveguide with a Picarin collimating lens (a) or in a back-to-back configuration (b).
and 2b, respectively. In a first run of measurements we coupled the QCL beam into the waveguide with a 5 cm focal length Picarin lens, which focuses the laser beam into a ≈1 mm spot at the waveguide input (Fig. 2a). A calibrated pyroelectric detector, having a sensitive area of about 3 mm, has been mounted on a XY translational stage, driven by stepper motors with a spatial resolution of about 0.2 μm to scan across the waveguide end and image the mode profile at the output (≈2 cm from the edge). The total transmitted power at the waveguide end is therefore recorded in the far-field for each scanning position.

A second run of experiments has been performed in a so called back-to-back configuration i.e. by placing the hollow waveguide at ≈ 4 mm from the QCL (Fig. 2b). The unfocused QCL beam couples into the waveguide through a pinhole in a thin stainless steel circle positioned in contact with the waveguide input. The pinhole diameter has been kept identical to the waveguide hollow core. After propagating through the waveguide, the THz wave is detected and imaged in the far field at about 2 cm from the waveguide output.

3. Results and discussion

Figures 3a-c
Fig. 3 Far field spatial intensity distribution of sample (a), (b) and (c), measured by collecting the unfocused QCL beam on a 2 cm far pyroelectric detector.
show the far field spatial intensity distribution of sample (a), (b) and (c), measured by keeping the pyroelectric detector 2 cm away from the QCL, and without any focusing optics.

The doughnut-shape of the intensity distribution measured in sample (a) agrees with theoretical predictions based on the Stratton-Chu formula [15

15. L. Mahler, A. Tredicucci, F. Beltram, C. Walther, J. Faist, B. Witzigmann, H. E. Beere, and D. A. Ritchie, “Vertically emitting microdisk lasers,” Nat. Photonics 3(1), 46–49 (2009). [CrossRef]

], and is expected to be in a perfect match to the TE01 mode of the hollow waveguide. The beam profile of sample (b) is more divergent and shows an asymmetric, partly linear, polarization along the ring diameter. As for sample (c), the mode profile is made up almost entirely of linearly polarized radiation, as expected for edge-emitting QCLs.

Figures 4
Fig. 4 Far field spatial intensity distribution of sample (a) upon exiting a 2 cm long, 2 mm (a), 1 mm (b), 90 μm (c) bore diameter aluminum waveguide. The beam profile has been measured by focusing the QCL beam on the waveguide entrance by means of an f/1 Picarin lens. The corresponding 3D plots of the far field intensities are reported in panels d-f.
show the far field spatial intensity distribution of sample (a) upon exiting a 2 cm long, 2 mm (panels a,d) or 1 mm (panels b,e) bore diameter aluminum waveguide, measured by focusing the incoming THz beam on the waveguide entrance by means of an f/1 Picarin lens. When the waveguide bore diameter d ≈ 2 dr or d ≈ dr two optical modes can be identified in the beam profile. The intensity distribution at the waveguide entrance is extremely focused and gradually decays to zero at the waveguide walls. In this case, the wave is mostly coupled to the TE11 mode. However, there is also a weak “ring” in the same image, which is likely caused by the TE01 mode, particularly visible in the 3D plot of Fig. 4d. Despite the presence of this low intensity ring, the mode profile obtained guarantees good coupling efficiency to and from free space. Finally, in panels c) and f) we show the 2D and 3D spatial intensity distribution of sample (a) upon exiting a tapered metallic waveguide having an entrance internal diameter of about 1mm and an internal diameter of 90 μm at the waveguide exit. The latter has been measured by keeping the pyroelectric detector at a distance of ≈ 300 μm from the 90 μm waveguide core.

Under these experimental conditions the highly confined TE11 mode is predominant. Moreover, it is worth noticing that extremely thin, wavelength sized hollow core diameters still give a reasonably good coupling between the THz QCL wave and the metallic waveguide

The TE01 mode can be easily excited without beam focusing by positioning the micro-ring QCL 4 mm distant from the entrance of a waveguide having a bore diameter d ≈ 2 dr or d ≈ dr. The measured far field patterns are shown in Figs. 5a
Fig. 5 Measured far field spatial intensity distribution of sample a) upon exiting a 2 cm long, 2 mm (a), 1 mm (b), bore diameter aluminum waveguide, mounted in a back-to-back configuration, 4 mm far from the QCL.
and 5b, respectively.

The doughnut shape of the electric field profile is characteristic of the low loss TE01 mode that has the best coupling efficiency when the QC source is placed back-to-back to the waveguide entrance. Under this configuration the micro-ring QCL mode is perfectly matched with the waveguide mode, and ensures an almost total coupling efficiency with the waveguide when d ≈ 2 dr.

For the sake of comparison we also show in Fig. 6
Fig. 6 3D far field spatial intensity distribution of sample c) measured upon exiting a 2 cm long, 2 mm (a), 1 mm (b), 90 μm (c) bore diameter aluminum waveguide, mounted in a back-to-back configuration, 4 mm away from the QCL.
the far field spatial intensity distribution of a linearly polarized QCL (sample c) upon exiting a 2 cm long, 2 mm (a), 1 mm (b), 90 μm (c) bore diameter waveguide, measured in a back-to-back configuration, under the same experimental conditions of Fig. 4. The mode profile, in this case, has an elliptical shape and the wave diverges more rapidly for smaller core waveguides as expected for the TE11 mode. No evidence of the TE01 mode is now present in the measured beam profile, in agreement with the expected waveguide mode symmetry. Finally, when the hole diameter approaches the wavelength of the impinging linearly polarized optical beam, the light can be still guided by the metal cylinder in the single-mode regime.

By measuring the input/output power values at the waveguide entrance/exit we extracted the coupling efficiency of the waveguide with the investigated QCL THz sources. The results obtained by focusing the QCL beam at the waveguide entrance, are plotted in Fig. 7
Fig. 7 Coupling efficiency values plotted as a function of the waveguide bore diameter in sample a (●), sample b (○) and sample c (■),measured by focusing the QCL beam on the waveguide entrance by means of an f/1 Picarin lens.
. Under this experimental condition the azimuthally polarized QCL (sample a) shows a very good matching with the waveguide TE11 mode. We get a coupling efficiency in the range 96% - 78% when dr ≤ d ≤ 2 dr. It is worth noticing that when d ≈ λ we still coupled the QCL beam with an efficiency of ≈14%. The mentioned efficiency values are reduced by almost one half when the polarization of the incoming beam is not uniform along the ring (sample b) or linear (sample c), keeping values in the range 35%-60% and 25%-52% for sample (b) and (c) respectively, when the ring diameter is dr ≤ d ≤ 2 dr. With a wavelength sized hollow core we still coupled radiation in the waveguide with ≈1.5% efficiency. Note that the coupling efficiency values plotted in Fig. 7 include the contribution of the transmission losses along the 2 cm long waveguides and therefore have to be considered as a lower limit of the effective coupling efficiency. A more detailed estimate of the above values can be extrapolated from the plots of the total losses as a function of the waveguide length.

Figure 8a
Fig. 8 (a) Total losses measured from the ratio between the output and input power while coupling the micro-ring QCL beam (sample a) in a 2 mm bore diameter aluminum waveguide preferentially with the TE11 mode (●) using the Picarin lens or mostly with the TE01 mode (■) in the back-to-back configuration. The open symbols represent the results of identical experiments performed by using a 1 mm bore diameter waveguide. (b) Comparison of the measured total losses extracted while coupling the THz QCL light in a 2 mm bore diameter waveguide for sample a (●), sample b (▲) and sample c (■). The dashed lines are liner fits to the data. The errors bars show absolute maximum errors for each individual data point calculated using the standard deviation in the power measurements. The reported losses are calculated from the slope of each curve.
shows the total transmission losses in the hollow waveguide, when the THz beam of sample (a) is either focused on the waveguide or coupled back-to-back, plotted as a function of the waveguide length. From the intercept of the linear fit to the data we extracted coupling efficiency values as high as 98% and 81% for a d ≈ 2 dr and d ≈ dr waveguide. Transmission losses of 4.6-5.1 dB/m and 2.3-2.7 dB/m have been found using the lens or in the back-to-back configuration, respectively, when the hollow diameter is d = 2 dr or even smaller (d ≈ dr).

Our results prove that in the back-to-back configuration coupling takes place mostly with the TE01 mode, while presumably a significant fraction of the THz beam is instead coupled to the TE11 mode when using the focusing lens. Note that the larger value of the optical losses when d ≈ dr is due to the worst coupling efficiency of the THz beam at the waveguide entrance.

4. Conclusions and perspectives

We have demonstrated a promising new scheme to couple surface emitting QCL sources fabricated in a micro-ring resonator with a simple Terahertz hollow metallic waveguide. By focusing the QCL beam at the waveguide entrance the TE11 mode is preferentially excited resulting in propagation losses of about 4.6-5.1 dB/m with a coupling efficiency > 96% with the azimuthally polarized QCL beam. By coupling the laser source directly with the hollow cylinder in a simple back-to-back configuration, the QCL mode can be perfectly matched with the low loss TE01 waveguide mode, giving an almost unitary coupling efficiency and transmission losses as low as ≈ 2.3-2.7 dB/m up to 4 THz.

This very simple experimental approach combining a coherent, powerful source well matched to the waveguide propagation mode design is particularly attractive for practical applications owing to the low loss, the complete radiation confinement inside the waveguide, the efficient coupling to free-space propagating beams, and the simplicity of the waveguide scheme, that requires neither sophisticated fabrication procedure nor growth of dielectric layers for the selection of a preferential low loss mode. This is really appealing for the realization of THz sensors and systems requiring compact and efficient sources integrated with small and low-cost optical components.

Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge Lukas Mahler for the contribution in the device fabrication. This work was partly supported by the FIRB project NG-Lab of the Italian Ministry of Research and by the Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena.

References and links

1.

J. R. Gao, J. N. Hovenier, Z. Q. Yang, J. J. A. Baselmans, A. Baryshev, M. Hajenius, T. M. Klapwijk, A. J. L. Adam, T. O. Klaassen, B. S. Williams, S. Kumar, Q. Hu, and J. L. Reno, “Terahertz heterodyne receiver based on a quantum cascade laser and a superconducting bolometer,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 86(24), 244104 (2005). [CrossRef]

2.

H. W. Hübers, S. Pavlov, A. Semenov, R. Köhler, L. Mahler, A. Tredicucci, H. Beere, D. Ritchie, and E. Linfield, “Terahertz quantum cascade laser as local oscillator in a heterodyne receiver,” Opt. Express 13(15), 5890–5896 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

3.

A. W. M. Lee, Q. Qin, S. Kumar, B. S. Williams, Q. Hu, and J. L. Reno, “Real-time terahertz imaging over a standoff distance (>25 meters),” Appl. Phys. Lett. 89(14), 141125 (2006). [CrossRef]

4.

S. Kumar and A. W. M. Lee, “Resonant-phonon terahertz quantum-cascade lasers and video-rate terahertz imaging,” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 14(2), 333–344 (2008). [CrossRef]

5.

B. S. Williams, “Terahertz quantum-cascade lasers,” Nat. Photonics 1(9), 517–525 (2007). [CrossRef]

6.

R. Köhler, A. Tredicucci, F. Beltram, H. E. Beere, E. H. Linfield, A. G. Davies, D. A. Ritchie, R. C. Iotti, and F. Rossi, “Terahertz semiconductor-heterostructure laser,” Nature 417(6885), 156–159 (2002). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

7.

M. I. Amanti, M. Fischer, C. Walther, G. Scalari, and J. Faist, “Horn antennas for terahertz quantum cascade lasers,” Electron. Lett. 43(10), 573–574 (2007). [CrossRef]

8.

W. Maineult, P. Gellie, A. Andronico, P. Filloux, G. Leo, C. Sirtori, S. Barbieri, E. Peytavit, T. Akalin, J.-F. Lampin, H. E. Beere, and D. A. Ritchie, “Metal-metal terahertz quantum cascade laser with micro-transverse-electromagnetic-horn antenna,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 93(18), 183508 (2008). [CrossRef]

9.

A. Wei Min Lee, Q. Qin, S. Kumar, B. S. Williams, Q. Hu, and J. L. Reno, “High-power and high-temperature THz quantum-cascade lasers based on lens-coupled metal-metal waveguides,” Opt. Lett. 32(19), 2840–2842 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

10.

Y. Chassagneux, R. Colombelli, W. Maineult, S. Barbieri, H. E. Beere, D. A. Ritchie, S. P. Khanna, E. H. Linfield, and A. G. Davies, “Electrically pumped photonic-crystal terahertz lasers controlled by boundary conditions,” Nature 457(7226), 174–178 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

11.

M. I. Amanti, M. Fischer, G. Scalari, M. Beck, and J. Faist, “Low-divergence single-mode terahertz quantum cascade laser,” Nat. Photonics 3(10), 586–590 (2009). [CrossRef]

12.

S. Kumar, B. S. Williams, Q. Qin, A. W. Lee, Q. Hu, and J. L. Reno, “Surface-emitting distributed feedback terahertz quantum-cascade lasers in metal-metal waveguides,” Opt. Express 15(1), 113–128 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

13.

J. A. Fan, M. A. Belkin, F. Capasso, S. Khanna, M. Lachab, A. G. Davies, and E. H. Linfield, “Surface emitting terahertz quantum cascade laser with a double-metal waveguide,” Opt. Express 14(24), 11672–11680 (2006). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

14.

L. Mahler, A. Tredicucci, F. Beltram, C. Walther, J. Faist, H. E. Beere, and D. A. Ritchie, “High-power surface emission from terahertz distributed feedback lasers with a dual-slit unit cell,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 96(19), 191109 (2010). [CrossRef]

15.

L. Mahler, A. Tredicucci, F. Beltram, C. Walther, J. Faist, B. Witzigmann, H. E. Beere, and D. A. Ritchie, “Vertically emitting microdisk lasers,” Nat. Photonics 3(1), 46–49 (2009). [CrossRef]

16.

L. Mahler, M. I. Amanti, C. Walther, A. Tredicucci, F. Beltram, J. Faist, H. E. Beere, and D. A. Ritchie, “Distributed feedback ring resonators for vertically emitting terahertz quantum cascade lasers,” Opt. Express 17(15), 13031–13039 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

17.

E. Mujagić, C. Deutsch, H. Detz, P. Klang, M. Nobile, A. M. Andrews, W. Schrenk, K. Unterrainer, and G. Strasser, “Vertically emitting terahertz quantum cascade ring lasers,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 95(1), 011120 (2009). [CrossRef]

18.

H. Han, H. Park, M. Cho, and J. Kim, “Terahertz pulse propagation in a plastic photonic crystal fiber,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 80(15), 2634–2636 (2002). [CrossRef]

19.

K. Wang and D. M. Mittleman, “Metal wires for terahertz wave guiding,” Nature 432(7015), 376–379 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

20.

M. Mbonye, R. Mendis, and D. M. Mittleman, “A Terahertz two-wire waveguide with low bending loss,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 95(23), 233506 (2009). [CrossRef]

21.

R. W. McGowan, G. Gallot, and D. Grischkowsky, “Propagation of ultrawideband short pulses of terahertz radiation through submillimeter-diameter circular waveguides,” Opt. Lett. 24(20), 1431–1433 (1999). [CrossRef]

22.

T. Hidaka, H. Minamide, H. Ito, S. Maeta, and T. Akiyama, “Ferroelectric PVDF cladding terahertz waveguide,” in Optical Information, Data Processing and Storage, and Laser Communication Technologies J.-P. Goedgebuer, N. N.Rozanov, S. K. Turitsyn, A. S. Akhmanov, and V. Y. Panchenko, eds., Proc. SPIE 5135, 70–77 (2003).

23.

J. A. Harrington, R. George, P. Pedersen, and E. Mueller, “Hollow polycarbonate waveguides with inner Cu coatings for delivery of terahertz radiation,” Opt. Express 12(21), 5263–5268 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

24.

B. Bowden, J. A. Harrington, and O. Mitrofanov, “Low-loss modes in hollow metallic terahertz waveguides with dielectric coatings,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 93(18), 181104 (2008). [CrossRef]

25.

T. Ito, Y. Matsuura, M. Miyagi, H. Minamide, and H. Ito, “Flexible Terahertz fiber optics with low bending-induced losses,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 24(5), 1230 (2007). [CrossRef]

26.

T. Losco, J. Xu, R. P. Green, A. Tredicucci, H. E. Beere, and D. A. Ritchie, “THz quantum cascade designs for optimized injection,” Physica E 40(6), 2207–2209 (2008). [CrossRef]

27.

B. Bowden, J. A. Harrington, and O. Mitrofanov, “Silver/polystyrene-coated hollow glass waveguides for the transmission of terahertz radiation,” Opt. Lett. 32(20), 2945–2947 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

OCIS Codes
(140.3070) Lasers and laser optics : Infrared and far-infrared lasers
(140.3560) Lasers and laser optics : Lasers, ring
(230.7370) Optical devices : Waveguides
(140.5965) Lasers and laser optics : Semiconductor lasers, quantum cascade
(300.6495) Spectroscopy : Spectroscopy, teraherz

ToC Category:
Lasers and Laser Optics

History
Original Manuscript: November 29, 2010
Revised Manuscript: December 22, 2010
Manuscript Accepted: December 22, 2010
Published: January 10, 2011

Citation
Miriam S. Vitiello, Ji-Hua Xu, Mirgender Kumar, Fabio Beltram, Alessandro Tredicucci, Oleg Mitrofanov, Harvey E. Beere, and David A. Ritchie, "High efficiency coupling of Terahertz micro-ring quantum cascade lasers to the low-loss optical modes of hollow metallic waveguides," Opt. Express 19, 1122-1130 (2011)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-19-2-1122


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References

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  6. R. Köhler, A. Tredicucci, F. Beltram, H. E. Beere, E. H. Linfield, A. G. Davies, D. A. Ritchie, R. C. Iotti, F. Rossi, “Terahertz semiconductor-heterostructure laser,” Nature 417(6885), 156–159 (2002). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
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  8. W. Maineult, P. Gellie, A. Andronico, P. Filloux, G. Leo, C. Sirtori, S. Barbieri, E. Peytavit, T. Akalin, J.-F. Lampin, H. E. Beere, D. A. Ritchie, “Metal-metal terahertz quantum cascade laser with micro-transverse-electromagnetic-horn antenna,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 93(18), 183508 (2008). [CrossRef]
  9. A. Wei Min Lee, Q. Qin, S. Kumar, B. S. Williams, Q. Hu, J. L. Reno, “High-power and high-temperature THz quantum-cascade lasers based on lens-coupled metal-metal waveguides,” Opt. Lett. 32(19), 2840–2842 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  10. Y. Chassagneux, R. Colombelli, W. Maineult, S. Barbieri, H. E. Beere, D. A. Ritchie, S. P. Khanna, E. H. Linfield, A. G. Davies, “Electrically pumped photonic-crystal terahertz lasers controlled by boundary conditions,” Nature 457(7226), 174–178 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  11. M. I. Amanti, M. Fischer, G. Scalari, M. Beck, J. Faist, “Low-divergence single-mode terahertz quantum cascade laser,” Nat. Photonics 3(10), 586–590 (2009). [CrossRef]
  12. S. Kumar, B. S. Williams, Q. Qin, A. W. Lee, Q. Hu, J. L. Reno, “Surface-emitting distributed feedback terahertz quantum-cascade lasers in metal-metal waveguides,” Opt. Express 15(1), 113–128 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  13. J. A. Fan, M. A. Belkin, F. Capasso, S. Khanna, M. Lachab, A. G. Davies, E. H. Linfield, “Surface emitting terahertz quantum cascade laser with a double-metal waveguide,” Opt. Express 14(24), 11672–11680 (2006). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  14. L. Mahler, A. Tredicucci, F. Beltram, C. Walther, J. Faist, H. E. Beere, D. A. Ritchie, “High-power surface emission from terahertz distributed feedback lasers with a dual-slit unit cell,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 96(19), 191109 (2010). [CrossRef]
  15. L. Mahler, A. Tredicucci, F. Beltram, C. Walther, J. Faist, B. Witzigmann, H. E. Beere, D. A. Ritchie, “Vertically emitting microdisk lasers,” Nat. Photonics 3(1), 46–49 (2009). [CrossRef]
  16. L. Mahler, M. I. Amanti, C. Walther, A. Tredicucci, F. Beltram, J. Faist, H. E. Beere, D. A. Ritchie, “Distributed feedback ring resonators for vertically emitting terahertz quantum cascade lasers,” Opt. Express 17(15), 13031–13039 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  17. E. Mujagić, C. Deutsch, H. Detz, P. Klang, M. Nobile, A. M. Andrews, W. Schrenk, K. Unterrainer, G. Strasser, “Vertically emitting terahertz quantum cascade ring lasers,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 95(1), 011120 (2009). [CrossRef]
  18. H. Han, H. Park, M. Cho, J. Kim, “Terahertz pulse propagation in a plastic photonic crystal fiber,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 80(15), 2634–2636 (2002). [CrossRef]
  19. K. Wang, D. M. Mittleman, “Metal wires for terahertz wave guiding,” Nature 432(7015), 376–379 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  20. M. Mbonye, R. Mendis, D. M. Mittleman, “A Terahertz two-wire waveguide with low bending loss,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 95(23), 233506 (2009). [CrossRef]
  21. R. W. McGowan, G. Gallot, D. Grischkowsky, “Propagation of ultrawideband short pulses of terahertz radiation through submillimeter-diameter circular waveguides,” Opt. Lett. 24(20), 1431–1433 (1999). [CrossRef]
  22. T. Hidaka, H. Minamide, H. Ito, S. Maeta, and T. Akiyama, “Ferroelectric PVDF cladding terahertz waveguide,” in Optical Information, Data Processing and Storage, and Laser Communication Technologies J.-P. Goedgebuer, N. N.Rozanov, S. K. Turitsyn, A. S. Akhmanov, and V. Y. Panchenko, eds., Proc. SPIE 5135, 70–77 (2003).
  23. J. A. Harrington, R. George, P. Pedersen, E. Mueller, “Hollow polycarbonate waveguides with inner Cu coatings for delivery of terahertz radiation,” Opt. Express 12(21), 5263–5268 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  24. B. Bowden, J. A. Harrington, O. Mitrofanov, “Low-loss modes in hollow metallic terahertz waveguides with dielectric coatings,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 93(18), 181104 (2008). [CrossRef]
  25. T. Ito, Y. Matsuura, M. Miyagi, H. Minamide, H. Ito, “Flexible Terahertz fiber optics with low bending-induced losses,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 24(5), 1230 (2007). [CrossRef]
  26. T. Losco, J. Xu, R. P. Green, A. Tredicucci, H. E. Beere, D. A. Ritchie, “THz quantum cascade designs for optimized injection,” Physica E 40(6), 2207–2209 (2008). [CrossRef]
  27. B. Bowden, J. A. Harrington, O. Mitrofanov, “Silver/polystyrene-coated hollow glass waveguides for the transmission of terahertz radiation,” Opt. Lett. 32(20), 2945–2947 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

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