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Connecting Theory and Practice in Optoelectronics
The influence of two-photon absorption (2PA) on GaAs-based high-power lasers receives increasing attention in recent years. 2PA generates an electron-hole pair by absorbing two photons at once, mainly inside the waveguide layers. In absence of self-heating and catastrophic optical damage, 2PA is considered a possible reason for the strong pulse power saturation that hampers various applications (picture). But published simulations of such saturation often contradict each other.
Dogan et al. reproduced the measured pulse power saturation by including 2PA as well as free-carrier absorption (FCA) in a traveling-wave optical model. This FCA is only caused by 2PA-generated carriers and was found to dominate at pulsed laser powers above 30W. However, the model ignores carrier transport effects such as carrier leakage which was previously established as main cause for the pulse power saturation of the same laser, while neglecting 2PA. More recently, Zeghuzi et al. identified a significant 2PA influence but included a very high gain compression factor in order to match the measured power saturation. Vertical carrier leakage from the active layers, which may lead to strong free-carrier absorption in the waveguide layers, was still ignored. In other words, none of these modeling approaches includes all possible saturation processes simultaneously. Read more of this post
It’s time again to reflect on my peer review experience over the past year. Supported by the availability of high-end commercial software, the number of journal paper submissions on optoelectronic device simulation keeps rising. However, authors often seem to view such software as magic tool that instantaneously delivers realistic results. Mathematical models always simplify reality. But how simple is too simple? Some papers don’t even discuss the underlying theory. There are different levels of simplification possible, which are all based on specific assumptions. Certain assumptions may be inappropriate in the given situation. That is why high-end software packages offer some alternative modeling approaches and let the user decide. In other words, the user should have a detailed understanding of internal device physics and of the models provided by the software.
However, this is only the first step of a successful simulation strategy. The next step is the evaluation of material parameters used in the software. Initial simulation results are typically far off measured characteristics because key parameters are inaccurate. Literature values are quite scattered in some cases. If crucial parameters cannot be measured directly on the device, they should be varied in the simulation until quantitative agreement with measurements is achieved. The model itself may be inadequate if such effort fails or if the fit value is outside the published range. On the other hand, competing models could deliver nearly identical results (see picture) so that more decisive measurements are needed. Such calibration process is often difficult and time-consuming, but in my view, it is the only way to accomplish realistic simulations. Otherwise, calculated results are unreliable and may lead to wrong conclusions. Read more of this post
Thus far, the highest output power measured on GaN-based lasers is about 7W, as shown in the picture.  In comparison, some GaAs-based lasers emit more than 30W in continuous-wave operation at room temperature. A key reason for this difference is the inherently large p-side electrical resistance of GaN-based laser diodes. It leads to strong Joule heating which lowers the gain and boosts various loss mechanisms that eventually cause the typical power roll-off at high currents.  Read more of this post
Quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) utilize quantized electron states as laser levels, which can be custom-tailored to the specific application by adequately designing the multi-quantum-well active region. With dephasing times between the upper and the lower laser level of about a picosecond, coherent light-matter interaction, along with other effects such as dispersion and spatial hole burning, governs the laser dynamics . Besides leading to multimode instabilities , the ultrafast dynamics in QCLs is increasingly exploited to implement innovative functionalities, such as the generation of frequency combs [2,3] and picosecond optical pulses  in the mid-infrared and terahertz regime.
For a targeted design of such structures and a deeper understanding of the complex QCL dynamics, a detailed theoretical model is required. We have developed a multi-domain simulation approach, which couples a Maxwell-Bloch type description of the light-matter interaction with advanced ensemble Monte Carlo (EMC) carrier transport simulations to eliminate empirical electron lifetimes . In the figure, simulation results for a QCL-based terahertz frequency comb source  are presented. The laser dynamics gives rise to a two-lobed power spectrum consisting of equidistant discrete comb lines [Fig. (a)]. Furthermore, a periodic temporal shifting of the power between the two spectral lobes is observed [Fig. (b)]. The two-lobed comb spectrum and the associated temporal switching dynamics have also been observed in experiment [3,5], validating our simulation model.
Pulsed lasers are utilised in a wide variety of applications, especially optical communication systems, and in particular lasers that support passive pulse generation (self-pulsing). The phenomenon of self-pulsing was exclusively found in macroscopic lasers until recently, where self-pulsing in a microscopic photonic crystal Fano laser was reported .
The Fano laser (fig. 1) consists of a line-defect waveguide in a 2D photonic crystal membrane coupled to a nearby point-defect, with active material embedded directly in the membrane. This coupling yields a strong, narrowband suppression of transmission, due to the interference of the continuous waveguide modes with the discrete mode of the nanocavity, effectively forming the right-most laser mirror at the symmetry line, with the left formed by termination of the waveguide .