Many important molecules show strong characteristic vibrational transitions in the mid-infrared (MIR) part of the electromagnetic spectrum. This leads to applications in spectroscopy, chemical and bio-molecular sensing, security and industry, especially over the mid- and long- wave infrared atmospheric transmission windows of 3-5 μm and 8-13 μm. In this paper, we review some of our more recent experimental and simulation work aimed at developing new light sources based on chalcogenide glass optical fibres that can help us utilize this spectral region for biomedical applications. This includes the development of supercontinuum and bright luminescent sources and our progress towards fibre-based lasers. We place these developments in the context of MIR imaging and spectroscopy in order to show how they bring the promise a new era in healthcare and clinical diagnostics.
Recently, the concept of random fiber lasers has attracted a great deal of attention for its feature to generate incoherent light without a traditional laser resonator, which is free of mode competition and insure the stationary narrow-band continuous modeless spectrum. In this Letter, we reported the first, to the best of our knowledge, optical parametric oscillator (OPO) pumped by an amplified 1070 nm random fiber laser (RFL), in order to generate stationary mid-infrared (mid-IR) laser. The experiment realized a watt-level laser output in the mid-IR range and operated relatively stable. The use of the RFL seed source allowed us to take advantage of its respective stable time-domain characteristics. The beam profile, spectrum and time-domain properties of the signal light were measured to analyze the process of frequency down-conversion process under this new pumping condition. The results suggested that the near-infrared (near-IR) signal light ‘inherited’ good beam performances from the pump light. Those would be benefit for further develop about optical parametric process based on different pumping circumstances.