Large heterodyne receiver arrays (~100 pixel) allow astronomical instrumentations to map more area within limited space mission lifetime. One challenge is to generate multiple local oscillator (LO) beams. Here, we succeeded in generating 81 beams at 3.86 THz by combining a reflective, metallic Fourier grating with an unidirectional antenna coupled 3rd-order distributed feedback (DFB) quantum cascade laser (QCL). We have measured the diffracted 81 beams by scanning a single pyroelectric detector at a plane, which is in the far field for the diffraction beams. The measured output beam pattern agrees well with a simulated result from COMSOL Multiphysics, with respect to the angular distribution and power distribution among the 81 beams. We also derived the diffraction efficiency to be 94 ± 3%, which is very close to what was simulated for a manufactured Fourier grating (97%). For an array of equal superconducting hot electron bolometer mixers, 64 out of 81 beams can pump the HEB mixers with similar power, resulting in receiver sensitivities within 10%. Such a combination of a Fourier grating and a QCL can create an LO with 100 beams or more, enabling a new generation of large heterodyne arrays for astronomical instrumentation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics