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Monolithically integrated solid-state terahertz transceivers


Recent advances in microfabricated terahertz quantum cascade lasers have achieved coherent power and frequency performance previously possible only with much larger gas- or vacuum-tube sources. A significant advantage offered by terahertz quantum cascade lasers lies in the potential to integrate them with other components on the same chip. Such terahertz photonic integrated circuits would help close the terahertz technology gap between microwave electronics and infrared photonics. Here, we describe the first successful monolithic integration of a terahertz quantum cascade laser and diode mixer to form a simple but generically useful terahertz photonic integrated circuit—a microelectronic terahertz transceiver. We show that this terahertz photonic integrated circuit performs all the basic functions (for example, transmission of a coherent carrier, heterodyne reception of an external signal, frequency locking and tuning) of discrete-component terahertz photonic systems, but at a small fraction of the size and in a robust platform scalable to semiconductor fabrication production.

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Figure 1: Design and image of the monolithically integrated terahertz transceiver.
Figure 2: QCL mode difference-frequency spectra.
Figure 3: Heterodyne reception of an external terahertz signal.
Figure 4: QCL monitor and control using the integrated diode.


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The authors would like to thank Eric Shaner for data acquisition software and hardware support and Vicente Garcia for the artwork in Fig. 1a. This work was supported by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program office at Sandia National Labs. Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-AC04-94AL85000.

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M.C.W. and M.L. conceived the integration idea. M.C.W., E.W.Y., C.D.N., M.J.C. and M.L. all contributed to the final device design. C.D.N. designed and modeled the co-planar waveguide and microwave interface. M.J.C. modeled the Schottky diodes, fabricated the complete devices and characterized the diodes. M.C.W., A.D.G. and C.T.F. designed and assembled the experimental mounting and measurement hardware. M.C.W., E.W.Y., A.D.G., C.T.F. and M.L. performed the measurements. J.L.R. grew the MBE laser material.

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Correspondence to Michael C. Wanke.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Wanke, M., Young, E., Nordquist, C. et al. Monolithically integrated solid-state terahertz transceivers. Nature Photon 4, 565–569 (2010).

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