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Gas Analysis

Gas analyzer

Advances in optical technology have opened a world of possibilities; so much new information is there for the taking in the mid-infrared region. Gases can be analyzed without contact while remaining cost-effective. Detectors and light sources can achieve performance like never before in cutting edge instruments. Innovation in process control, analytical chemistry, and environmental monitoring are now at our fingertips, all while reducing dependence on hazardous materials.

Hamamatsu has the world-class manufacturing capability to handle the volume demands of your instrument. Customization is a must for many projects.  We take pride in developing strong collaborative relationships with our customers to achieve the proper package and specifications.

While many detectors in the MIR space unfortunately rely on hazardous materials outlined by RoHS standards, our prior MCT and PbS/PbSe product lines have been discontinued.  Hamamatsu is proud to halt the use of hazardous materials and showcase a fully RoHS compliant product line relying on InAsSb material. 

Lineup of light sources and detection elements

Infrared (IR) detectors

Gas analysis is used in many fields including environmental monitoring, process control, energy, and healthcare. Compared to other methods, gas analysis based on the absorption of gases at specific near- and mid-infrared wavelengths has advantages such as non-contact measurement and high selectivity. These absorption-based gas analyzers require an infrared detector, and we offer many choices, including RoHS-compliant InAsSb photovoltaic detectors.

When selecting an appropriate detector, it is important to match the gases’ absorption bands to the detector’s spectral sensitivity. Other detector characteristics to consider include:

  • Sensitivity
  • Specific detectivity (D*)
  • Noise
  • Linearity
  • Speed
  • Package
  • Cooling

There are two methods to cool infrared detectors: 1) using a built-in thermoelectric (TE) cooler, and 2) adding liquid nitrogen. While TE-cooling is more convenient and requires less frequent replacement, liquid nitrogen’s deeper cooling gives a detector higher D* values, indicating better performance.

We offer a diverse lineup of IR detectors. Their cutoff wavelength and D* values are shown in the table below.

    D* values at peak wavelength (cm·Hz1/2/W)
Cutoff wavelength Detector Uncooled Thermoelectric cooling Liquid nitrogen cooling
11 µm InAsSb photovoltaic (RoHS compliant) Up to 1 x 109 Up to 6 x 109 --
6.7 µm InSb photoconductive -- Up to 1 x 1010 --
5.5 µm InSb photovoltaic -- Up to 1.6 x 1011 Up to 1.6 x 1011
20 µm Thermopiles Up to 1.3 x 108 -- --
3.6 µm InAs photovoltaic Up to 4.5 x 109 Up to 4.5 x 109 Up to 4.5 x 109
2.6 µm InGaAs PIN photodiodes Up to 1 x 1012 Up to 8.5 x 1012 --

InAsSb photovoltaic detectors

Unfortunately, many detectors in the MIR space rely on hazardous materials outlined by RoHS standards. These materials are also prone to high variance at high volumes. Hamamatsu's product line is fully RoHS compliant relying on InAsSb material. Mercury, cadmium, or lead are not used. Our InAsSb detectors’ cutoff wavelengths span from 5.3 µm up to 11 µm. Customizations for these detectors include built-in filters and window material.

InSb photoconductive detectors

Our indium antimonide (InSb) photoconductive detectors are sensitive to IR wavelengths up to 6.7 µm, and all are TE-cooled.

InSb photovoltaic detectors

Sensitive up to 5.5 µm, indium antimonide (InSb) photovoltaic detectors can be used to detect gases below the 5 µm wavelength band. All of our InSb detectors are cooled with liquid nitrogen.


Our thermopiles have a spectral range of 3-20 micron, and we also offer a two-stage thermopile with filters catered to CO2 measurements. Although they are less expensive than photovoltaic or photoconductive detectors, they have lower D* values and much slower response speed.

InAs photovoltaic detectors

Sensitive up to 3.6 µm, indium arsenide (InAs) photovoltaic detectors feature low noise, high sensitivity, high-speed response, and high reliability. They are available in uncooled, TE-cooled, or liquid-nitrogen-cooled models.

InGaAs PIN photodiodes

Indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) PIN photodiodes are suitable for gas sensors operating in the near-infrared region. They feature high D* values, low noise, high-speed response, and high reliability.

IR light sources

Hamamatsu has a robust line of MIR light sources for your application of choice.

The quantum cascade laser (QCL) represents a technology revolution, achieving 4+ micron light. Distributed feedback lasers (DFB) can provide linewidth resolution that allows parts per trillion accuracy in some cases. These lasers require a great deal of expertise and auxiliary equipment, so in situations where they aren’t desirable LEDs can be a great alternative. Reductions in cost and complexity coupled with long lifetimes are an excellent combination for instruments that do not require the performance of a QCL.

Light source Wavelength coverage Source bandwidth Sensitivity or detection limit
Quantum cascade lasers 4-10 µm Extremely narrow band Parts per billion (ppb)
Mid-infrared LEDs (RoHS compliant) 3-4.3 µm Some broadband Parts per million (ppm)
Near-infrared LEDs (RoHS compliant) 0.83-1.55 µm Some broadband Parts per million (ppm)

Quantum cascade lasers (QCL)

QCLs help instruments detect gases such as COx, NOx, SOx, CH4, NH3, and O3 down to ppb levels or measure isotopes of carbon dioxide and methane. When selecting QCLs, consider these characteristics:

  • Peak emission
  • Tuning
  • Output power
  • Operating temperature
  • Operating current
  • Package (TO can/HHL/butterfly)

We offer QCLs in continuous wave (CW HHL package) and pulsed emission types. They feature high output, high-speed response, and high reliability. Customization options include wavelength range or peak emission, output power, operating temperature, and operating current.

Mid-infrared LEDs

When selecting mid-infrared (MIR) LEDs, consider these characteristics:

  • Pulsing
  • Narrow emission spectrum
  • Power
  • Lifetime
  • Cost

Our line of RoHS-compliant mid-infrared LEDs can bring 3+ micron light at a fraction of the cost of a QCL, and achieve parts per million sensitivity with proper calibration. Currently, we offer LEDs for measuring CH4 (3.3 µm), reference (3.9 µm), and CO2 (4.3 µm). They feature high output, high reliability, and low power consumption.

Near-infrared LEDs

When selecting near-infrared (NIR) LEDs, it is important to consider these characteristics:

  • Pulsing
  • Narrow emission spectrum
  • Power
  • Lifetime
  • Cost

We offer many RoHS-compliant near-infrared LEDs with peak emission within 0.83 - 1.55 µm. They feature high output and high reliability, and they consume less power and have a faster response time than NIR-emitting lamps.

Recommended products

InAsSb photovoltaic detectors

InAsSb photovoltaic detectors deliver high sensitivity in the 5 μm, 8 μm, and 11 μm band due to our unique crystal growth technology.

Mid-infrared LEDs

Mid-infrared LEDs having high output with peak emission wavelengths of 3.3, 3.9, and 4.3 μm are available in metal or compact ceramic packages. For detection elements, use quantum detectors such as InAsSb photovoltaic detectors.

Quantum cascade lasers (QCLs)

Quantum cascade lasers are semiconductor lasers that offer peak emission in the mid-IR range (4 μm to 10 μm). They have gained considerable attention as a new light source for mid-IR applications such as molecular gas analysis used in environmental measurement.

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