1 Department of Photonics Engineering, Technical University of Denmark2 Optical Sensor Technology, Department of Photonics Engineering, Technical University of Denmark3 Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, Technical University of Denmark
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.