High Peak Power (≥ 10 mW) Quantum Cascade Superluminescent Emitter

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Princeton Docket # 15-3101-1


Researchers in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Princeton University have developed a novel Quantum Cascade (QC) device to emit mid-infrared (mid-IR) superluminescent light with high power output. The high power superluminescent light has applications in mid-IR broadband absorption spectroscopy and mid-IR optical coherence tomography (OCT).


Superluminescent light sources have medical and industrial applications because of their intrinsically low temporal and good spatial coherence, smooth emission spectrum, and relatively high output power. There is growing interest in expanding OCT to the mid-infrared (mid-IR) range for biomedical research, especially for turbid scattering media like tissue. QC device technology  offers a possible  light source for mid-IR  OCT. In the past, insufficient optical power and low temperature operation prevented QC superluminescence devices from practical applications.


This innovation describes a new cavity design for superluminescence devices, which can output about milliwatt mid-IR light and operate at room temperature. This light source can be commercially used for spectroscopy or imaging systems as well as a hybrid system with both of these features. QC device technology offers a superluminescent light source for realizing mid-IR OCT.




•       Mid-infrared Optical Coherence Tomography

•       Mid-infrared broadband absorption spectroscopy

•       FTIR

•       3D and cross-sectional imaging

•       Quality Control




•       High peak power (50-100 mW)

•       High spectral and spatial resolution

•       Chemical composition information

•       Operation at room temperature

•       Compact design



•       N. Aung, Z. Yu, Y. Yu, P. Liu, X. Wang, J. Fan, M. Troccoli, and C. Gmachl. High peak power (≥10 mW) quantum cascade superluminescent emitter. Appl. Phys. Lett, 105, 221111 (2014).

•       M. Zheng, N. Aung, A. Basak, P. Liu, X. Wang, J. Fan, M. Troccoli, and C. Gmachl. High power spiral cavity quantum cascade superluminescent emitter. Optics Express, 23, 3, pp 2713-2719 (2015)


Faculty Inventor


Claire Gmachl is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering and Director of the NSF Engineering Research Center for Mid-InfraRed Technologies for Health and the Environment (MIRTHE).  Her research group is working on the development of new quantum devices, especially lasers, and their optimization for sensor systems and their applications in environment and health.  Among the numerous honors Professor Gmachl has received are Election to Austrian Academy of Sciences as Corresponding Member Abroad (2008), MacArthur Fellow (2005), and Popular Science Magazine's list of Brilliant 10 (2004).


Intellectual Property Status

Patent protection is pending.

Princeton is seeking to identify appropriate partners for the further development and commercialization of this technology.



Michael R. Tyerech

Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing

• (609) 258-6762• tyerech@princeton.edu

Xin (Shane) Peng

Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing

• (609) 258-5579• xinp@princeton.edu





Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Chris Wright
Licensing Associate
Princeton University
Nyan Aung
Mei Chai Zheng
Claire Gmachl