Room temperature mid-IR single photon spectral imaging

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    Spectral imaging and detection of mid-infrared (mid-IR) wavelengths are emerging as an enabling technology of great technical and scientific interest; primarily because important chemical compounds display unique and strong mid-IR spectral fingerprints revealing valuable chemical information. While modern Quantum cascade lasers have evolved as ideal coherent mid-IR excitation sources, simple, low noise, room temperature detectors and imaging systems still lag behind. We address this need presenting a novel, field-deployable, upconversion system for sensitive, 2-D, mid-IR spectral imaging. Measured room temperature dark noise is 0.2 photons/spatial element/second, which is a billion times below the dark noise level of cryogenically cooled InSb cameras. Single photon imaging and up to 200 x 100 spatial elements resolution is obtained reaching record high continuous wave quantum efficiency of about 20 % for polarized incoherent light at 3 \mum. The proposed method is relevant for existing and new mid-IR applications like gas analysis and medical diagnostics.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalNature Photonics
    Pages (from-to)788–793
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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