Accelerated Burn-In Process for High Power Quantum Cascade Lasers to Reduce Total Cost of Ownership

Navy STTR 20.B - Topic N20B-T029

Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) - Ms. Donna Attick [email protected]

Opens: June 3, 2020 - Closes: July 2, 2020 (12:00 p.m. ET)



N20B-T029       TITLE: Accelerated Burn-In Process for High Power Quantum Cascade Lasers to Reduce Total Cost of Ownership


RT&L FOCUS AREA(S): Quantum Sciences, Directed Energy



OBJECTIVE: Develop and fully validate an accelerated burn-in process for high power continuous wave (CW) Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCLs) that minimizes burn-in time.


DESCRIPTION: Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCLs) capable of delivering several watts of CW optical power in a high-quality beam in the emission wavelength range between 4.6 to 5 microns are of great interest to the Navy for a number of existing and emerging defense applications. The high price of Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) QCLs is one of the main hurdles impeding widespread use by the U.S. warfighter. The Navy has recently initiated several programs to reduce QCL fabrication cost. However, post-production laser failure is one of the main contributors to the high price of QCL-based products. To avoid costly integration of defective high power QCLs into infrared system platforms, devices with short life expectancies must be screened out at an early fabrication/packaging stage. To minimize QCL fabrication cost, a large decrease in infant mortality of the QCLs reaching post-production must be achieved at either the chip or chip-on-submount levels.


Accelerated burn-in testing for diode lasers is typically done at an elevated current and/or temperature and laser degradation models are used to predict their long-term reliability based on observed changes in measured laser characteristics [Refs 1-2]. In contrast to diode lasers, a well-accepted burn-in process for QCLs does not exist [Refs 3-6]. The main goal for this STTR topic is to develop and experimentally validate an accelerated QCL burn-in process that is effective in screening out devices with infant mortality and accurately predicts lifetime [Ref 7] for high power QCLs suitable for DOD applications, while at the same time minimizes required burn-in time. The later requirement is critical for total cost QCL minimization by a factor of 5 in large volume applications.


PHASE I: Design and develop a QCL degradation model. Collect accelerated burn-in data for a statistically significant number of multi-watt continuous wave QCLs. Demonstrate that the new model is consistent with collected experimental data. Develop Phase II work plan that refines and further validates the model.


PHASE II: Build a multichannel QCL burn-in setup and collect long-term burn-in data for at least thirty devices under normal operational conditions. Demonstrate that the new accelerated burn-in process is an effective tool for screening out devices with infant mortality and for accurately predicting lifetime for high-power QCLs. Fully validate and document accelerated burn-in process for QCLs that requires minimal burn-in time.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Test and finalize the technology and methodology based on the research and development results developed during Phase II. Develop a cost-effective process for manufacturing high-reliability QCLs to be transitioned and integrated into Directional Infrared Counter Measures (DIRCM) systems for field deployment in a Navy platform.


Commercialize the technology based on the burn-in process developed from this program for law enforcement, marine navigation, commercial aviation enhanced vision, medical applications, and industrial manufacturing processing.



1. Johnson, L. “Laser Diode Burn-In and Reliability Testing.” IEEE, 2006.  


2. Lam, S., Mallard, R. & Cassidy, D. “Analytical Model for Saturable Aging in Semiconductor Lasers.” Journal of Applied Physics, 2003, pp. 1803-1809.  


3. Myers, T., Cannon, B., Brauer, C., Phillips, M., Taubman, M. & Bernacki, B. “Long-Term Operational Testing of Quantum Cascade Lasers.” SPIE, 2016.  


4. Myers, T., Cannon, B., Taubman, M. & Bernacki, B. “Performance and Reliability of Quantum Cascade Lasers.” SPIE, 2013.  


5. Razeghi, M. “Quantum Cascade Lasers Ready for IRCM Applications.” SPIE: Edinburgh, 2012.   


6. Lyakh, A., Maulini, R., Tsekoun, A. & Patel, C. “Progress in High-Performance Quantum Cascade Lasers.” SPIE, 2010.  


7. “MIL-STD-810G: Environmental Engineering Considerations and Laboratory Tests.” Department of Defense, 2008. Everyspec.


KEYWORDS: QCL, Burn-In Process, Thermal Load, Reliability, Mid Wave Infrared (MWIR), Brightness