Mid-infrared spectroscopy has been successfully applied for reagent-free clinical chemistry applications. Our aim is to design a portable bed-side system for ICU patient monitoring, based on mid-infrared absorption spectra of continuously sampled body-fluids. Robust and miniature bed-side systems can be achieved with tunable external cavity quantum cascade lasers (EC-QCL). Previously, single EC-QCL modules covering a wavenumber interval up to 250 cm-1 have been utilized. However, for broader applicability in biomedical research an extended interval around the mid-infrared fingerprint region should be accessible, which is possible with at least three or four EC-QCL modules. For such purpose, a tunable ultra-broadband system (1920 – 780 cm−1, Block Engineering) has been studied with regard to its transient emission characteristics in ns time resolution during different laser pulse widths using a VERTEX 80v FTIR spectrometer with step-scan option. Furthermore, laser emission line profiles of all four incorporated EC-QCL modules have been analysed at high spectral resolution (0.08 cm-1) and beam profiles with few deviations from the TEM 00 spatial mode have been manifested. Emission line reproducibility has been tested for various wavenumbers in step tune mode. The overall accuracy of manufacturer default wavenumber setting has been found between ± 3 cm−1 compared to the FTIR spectrometer scale. With regard to an application in clinical chemistry, theoretically achievable concentration accuracies for different blood substrates based on blood plasma and dialysate spectra previously recorded by FTIR-spectrometers have been estimated taking into account the now accessible extended wavenumber interval.

© 2015 SPIE

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