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Abstract

We demonstrate a low-threshold, compact, room temperature, and continuous-wave terahertz molecular laser optically pumped by a mid-infrared quantum cascade laser. These characteristics are obtained, thanks to large dipole transitions of the active medium: NH (ammonia) in gas state. The low-power (<60 mW) laser pumping excites the molecules, thanks to intense mid-infrared transitions around 10.3 m. The molecules de-excite by stimulated emission on pure inversion “umbrella-mode” quantum transitions allowed by the tunnel effect. The tunability of the quantum cascade laser gives access to several pure inversion transitions with different rotation states: we demonstrate the continuous-wave generation of ten laser lines around 1 THz. At 1.07 THz, we measure a power of 34 W with a very low-threshold of 2 mW and a high differential efficiency of 0.82 mW/W. The spectrum was measured showing that the linewidth is lower than 1 MHz. To our knowledge, this is the first THz molecular laser pumped by a solid-state source and this result opens the way for compact, simple, and efficient THz source at room temperature for imaging applications.

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