1 Department of Photonics Engineering, Technical University of Denmark2 Fiber Sensors and Supercontinuum Generation, Department of Photonics Engineering, Technical University of Denmark3 Ultrafast Nonlinear Optics group, Department of Photonics Engineering, Technical University of Denmark4 Aarhus University5 University of Nottingham
The mid-infrared spectral region is of great technical and scientific interest because most molecules display fundamental vibrational absorptions in this region, leaving distinctive spectral fingerprints. To date, the limitations of mid-infrared light sources such as thermal emitters, low-power laser diodes, quantum cascade lasers and synchrotron radiation have precluded mid-infrared applications where the spatial coherence, broad bandwidth, high brightness and portability of a supercontinuum laser are all required. Here, we demonstrate experimentally that launching intense ultra-short pulses with a central wavelength of either 4.5 μm or 6.3 μm into short pieces of ultra-high numerical-aperture step-index chalcogenide glass optical fibre generates a mid-infrared supercontinuum spanning 1.5 μm to 11.7 μm and 1.4 μm to 13.3 μm, respectively. This is the first experimental demonstration to truly reveal the potential of fibres to emit across the mid-infrared molecular ‘fingerprint region’, which is of key importance for applications such as early cancer diagnostics3, gas sensing and food quality control.