Tuning a terahertz wire laser
Tunable terahertz lasers are desirable in applications in sensing and spectroscopy because many biochemical species have strong spectral fingerprints at terahertz frequencies. Conventionally, the frequency of a laser is tuned in a similar manner to a stringed musical instrument, in which pitch is varied by changing the length of the string (the longitudinal component of the wave vector) and/or its tension (the refractive index). However, such methods are difficult to implement in terahertz semiconductor lasers because of their poor outcoupling efficiencies. Here, we demonstrate a novel tuning mechanism based on a unique ‘wire laser’ device for which the transverse dimension w is λ. Placing a movable object close to the wire laser manipulates a large fraction of the waveguided mode propagating outside the cavity, thereby tuning its resonant frequency. Continuous single-mode redshift and blueshift tuning is demonstrated for the same device by using either a dielectric or metallic movable object. In combination, this enables a frequency tuning of ~137 GHz (3.6%) from a single laser device at ~3.8 THz.