Theoretical Study of Semiconductor Quantum Dot Lasers with Asymmetric Barrier Layers
Monk III, John Lawrence
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Small-signal dynamic response of semiconductor quantum dot (QD) lasers with asymmetric barrier layers was studied. Semiconductor lasers are used in many communication systems. Fiber optic communication systems use semiconductor lasers in order to transmit information. DVD and Blu-ray disk players feature semiconductor lasers as their readout source. Barcode readers and laser pointers also use semiconductor lasers. A medical application of semiconductor lasers is for minor soft tissue procedures. Semiconductor lasers are also used to pump solid-state and fiber lasers. Semiconductor lasers are able to transmit telephone, internet, and television signals through fiber optic cables over long distances. The amount of information able to be transferred is directly related to the bandwidth of the laser. By introducing asymmetric barrier layers, the modulation bandwidth of the laser will improve, allowing for more information to be transferred. Also, by introducing asymmetric barrier layers, the output power will be unrestricted, meaning as more current is applied to the system, the laser will get more powerful. An optimum pumping current was found which maximized modulation bandwidth at -3dB, and is lower in QD lasers with asymmetric barrier layers (ABL) as opposed to conventional QD lasers. Modulation bandwidth was found to increase with cross section of carrier capture before reaching an asymptote. Both surface density of QDs and cavity length had optimum values which maximized modulation bandwidth. Relative QD size fluctuation was considered in order to see how variation in QD sizes effects the modulation bandwidth of the semiconductor QD laser with ABLs. These calculations give a good starting point for fabricating semiconductor QD lasers with ABLs featuring the largest modulation bandwidth possible for fiber optic communication systems. In semiconductor QD lasers, the electrons and holes may be captured into excited states within the QDs, rather than the ground state. The particles may also jump from the ground state up to an excited state, or drop from the excited state to the ground state. Recombination of electron-hole pairs can occur from the ground state to the ground state or from an excited state to an excited state. In the situation if the capture of charge carriers into the ground state in QDs takes place via the excited-state, then this two-step capture process makes the output power from ground-state lasing to saturate in conventional QD lasers. By using ABLs in the QD laser, it is predicted that the output power of ground-state lasing will continue to rise with applied current, as the ABLs will stop the electrons and holes from recombining in the optical confinement layer. Thus, ABL QD lasers will be able to be used in applications that require large energy outputs.
General Audience Abstract
Semiconductor lasers (also known as diode lasers) have been used in numerous applications ranging from communication to medical applications. Among all applications of diode lasers, of particular importance is their use for high speed transmission of information and data in fiber optic communication systems. This is accomplished by direct conversion of the diode laser input (electrical current) to its output (optical power). Direct modulation of the laser optical output through varying electrical current helps cut costs by not requiring other expensive equipment in order to perform modulation. The performance of conventional semiconductor lasers suffers from parasitic recombination outside of the active region – an unwanted process that consumes a considerable fraction of the laser input (injection current) while not contributing to the useful output and thus damaging its performance. Asymmetric barrier layers were proposed as a way to suppress parasitic recombination in semiconductor lasers. In this study, the optimal conditions for semiconductor quantum dot lasers with asymmetric barrier layers were calculated in order to maximize their modulation bandwidth – the parameter that determines the highest speed of efficient information transmission. This includes finding the optimal values of the dc component of the pump current, quantum dot surface density and size fluctuations, and cavity length. As compared to conventional quantum dot lasers, the optimal dc current maximizing the modulation bandwidth is shown to be considerably lower in quantum dot lasers with asymmetric barrier layers thus proving their outperforming efficiency. In the presence of extra states in quantum dots in conventional lasers, the optical output of needed ground-state lasing may be heavily impacted – it may remain almost unchanged with increasing the laser input current. As opposed to conventional lasers, the output power of ground-state lasing in devices with asymmetric barrier layers will continue growing as more input current is applied to the system.
- Masters Theses