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Photonic sensing of hydrocarbons based on innovative mid infrared lasers (SensHy)
Start date: 01 Mar 2008, End date: 31 Aug 2011 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The SensHy proposal focuses on novel photonic gas sensors for the detection of hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons can be detected most sensitively in the 3.0 to 3.6 µm wavelength range. Two particular challenging applications with significant market potential are investigated within the project. Unfortunately there are no application grade semiconductor lasers in this wavelength range yet: On the short-wavelength side of this range interband lasers are available (RT cw operation for emission up to about 3.0 µm), while intraband quantum cascade lasers were demonstrated on the long-wavelength side (RT cw operation for emission above about 3.8 µm). An additional complication for applications in gas detection is given by the maximum available tuning range for suitable mono mode laser diodes, which is currently limited to a few nanometers. Concepts for an increased tuning range have so far been predominantly investigated at wavelengths around 1.55 µm for telecom applications. The aim of the SensHy proposal is to overcome these limitations and to achieve the following goals:- realize GaSb based laser material enabling RT cw operation in the wavelength range from 3.0 to 3.6 µm- develop multi-section DFB/DBR Lasers with increased electrical tuning capability- demonstrate highly sensitive hydrocarbon detection making use of widely tuneable lasers and novel digital-signal-processing schemes to identify various gas constituents within a multi-component hydrocarbon gas mixtureIn order to reach these goals significant challenges have to be overcome in various fields ranging from epitaxial semiconductor growth via laser design and processing to mid infrared sensor development of the project. For this the consortium comprises renowned research groups, academic and industrial partners including SMEs from across Europe with a range of complementary competencies covering all aspects from semiconductor material and characterization to photonic components and sensor systems.
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