Quantum dot laser

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A quantum dot laser is a semiconductor laser that uses quantum dots as the active laser medium in its light emitting region. Due to the tight confinement of charge carriers in quantum dots, they exhibit an electronic structure similar to atoms. Lasers fabricated from such an active media exhibit device performance that is closer to gas lasers, and avoid some of the negative aspects of device performance associated with traditional semiconductor lasers based on bulk or quantum well active media. Improvements in modulation bandwidth, lasing threshold, relative intensity noise, linewidth enhancement factor and temperature insensitivity have all been observed. The quantum dot active region may also be engineered to operate at different wavelengths by varying dot size and composition. This allows quantum dot lasers to be fabricated to operate at wavelengths previously not possible using semiconductor laser technology.

Quantum dot nano-scale electronic device subject to quantum effects

Quantum dots (QDs) are tiny semiconductor particles a few nanometres in size, having optical and electronic properties that differ from larger LED particles. They are a central theme in nanotechnology. When the quantum dots are illuminated by UV light, some of the electrons receive enough energy to break free from the atoms. This capability allows them to move around the nanoparticle, creating a conductance band in which electrons are free to move through a material and conduct electricity. When these electrons drop back into the outer orbit around the atom, as illustrated in the following figure, they emit light. The color of that light depends on the energy difference between the conductance band and the valence band.

The active laser medium is the source of optical gain within a laser. The gain results from the stimulated emission of electronic or molecular transitions to a lower energy state from a higher energy state previously populated by a pump source.

In physics, a charge carrier is a particle or quasiparticle that is free to move, carrying an electric charge, especially the particles that carry electric charges in electrical conductors. Examples are electrons, ions and holes. In a conducting medium, an electric field can exert force on these free particles, causing a net motion of the particles through the medium; this is what constitutes an electric current. In conducting media, particles serve to carry charge:

Recently, devices based on quantum dot active media are finding commercial application in medicine (laser scalpel, optical coherence tomography), display technologies (projection, laser TV), spectroscopy and telecommunications. A 10 Gbit/s quantum dot laser that is insensitive to temperature fluctuation for use in optical data communications and optical networks has been developed using this technology. The laser is capable of high-speed operation at 1.3 μm wavelengths, at temperatures from 20 °C to 70 °C. It works in optical data transmission systems, optical LANs and metro-access systems. In comparison to the performance of conventional strained quantum-well lasers of the past, the new quantum dot laser achieves significantly higher stability of temperature.

Optical coherence tomography

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an imaging technique that uses low-coherence light to capture micrometer-resolution, two- and three-dimensional images from within optical scattering media. It is used for medical imaging and industrial nondestructive testing (NDT). Optical coherence tomography is based on low-coherence interferometry, typically employing near-infrared light. The use of relatively long wavelength light allows it to penetrate into the scattering medium. Confocal microscopy, another optical technique, typically penetrates less deeply into the sample but with higher resolution.

Local area network computer network that connects devices over a small area

A local area network (LAN) is a computer network that interconnects computers within a limited area such as a residence, school, laboratory, university campus or office building. By contrast, a wide area network (WAN) not only covers a larger geographic distance, but also generally involves leased telecommunication circuits.

Metropolitan area network computer network that interconnects users with computer resources in a geographic area or region

A metropolitan area network (MAN) is a computer network that interconnects users with computer resources in a geographic region of the size of a metropolitan area. The term MAN is applied to the interconnection of local area networks (LANs) in a city into a single larger network which may then also offer efficient connection to a wide area network. The term is also used to describe the interconnection of several local area networks in a metropolitan area through the use of point-to-point connections between them.

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Optical amplifier device that amplifies an optical signal

An optical amplifier is a device that amplifies an optical signal directly, without the need to first convert it to an electrical signal. An optical amplifier may be thought of as a laser without an optical cavity, or one in which feedback from the cavity is suppressed. Optical amplifiers are important in optical communication and laser physics. They are used as optical repeaters in the long distance fiberoptic cables which carry much of the world's telecommunication links.

Laser diode semiconductor laser

A laser diode, (LD), injection laser diode (ILD), or diode laser is a semiconductor device similar to a light-emitting diode in which the laser beam is created at the diode's junction. Laser diodes can directly convert electrical energy into light. Driven by voltage, the doped p-n-transition allows for recombination of an electron with a hole. Due to the drop of the electron from a higher energy level to a lower one, radiation, in the form of an emitted photon is generated. This is spontaneous emission. Stimulated emission can be produced when the process is continued and further generate light with the same phase, coherence and wavelength.

Photonics branch of physics

Photonics is the physical science of light (photon) generation, detection, and manipulation through emission, transmission, modulation, signal processing, switching, amplification, and sensing. Though covering all light's technical applications over the whole spectrum, most photonic applications are in the range of visible and near-infrared light. The term photonics developed as an outgrowth of the first practical semiconductor light emitters invented in the early 1960s and optical fibers developed in the 1970s.

Vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser

The vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser, or VCSEL, is a type of semiconductor laser diode with laser beam emission perpendicular from the top surface, contrary to conventional edge-emitting semiconductor lasers which emit from surfaces formed by cleaving the individual chip out of a wafer. VCSELs are used in various laser products, including computer mice, fiber optic communications, laser printers, Face ID, and smartglasses.

Indium phosphide chemical compound

Indium phosphide (InP) is a binary semiconductor composed of indium and phosphorus. It has a face-centered cubic ("zincblende") crystal structure, identical to that of GaAs and most of the III-V semiconductors.

Quantum well quantum well

A quantum well is a potential well with only discrete energy values.

Photodetector sensors of light or other electromagnetic energy

Photodetectors, also called photosensors, are sensors of light or other electromagnetic radiation. A photo detector has a p–n junction that converts light photons into current. The absorbed photons make electron–hole pairs in the depletion region. Photodiodes and photo transistors are a few examples of photo detectors. Solar cells convert some of the light energy absorbed into electrical energy.

Blue laser

A blue laser is a laser that emits electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength between 360 and 480 nanometres, which the human eye sees as blue or violet.

Quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) are semiconductor lasers that emit in the mid- to far-infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum and were first demonstrated by Jerome Faist, Federico Capasso, Deborah Sivco, Carlo Sirtori, Albert Hutchinson, and Alfred Cho at Bell Laboratories in 1994.

A hybrid silicon laser is a semiconductor laser fabricated from both silicon and group III-V semiconductor materials. The hybrid silicon laser was developed to address the lack of a silicon laser to enable fabrication of low-cost, mass-producible silicon optical devices. The hybrid approach takes advantage of the light-emitting properties of III-V semiconductor materials combined with the process maturity of silicon to fabricate electrically driven lasers on a silicon wafer that can be integrated with other silicon photonic devices.

Silicon photonics

Silicon photonics is the study and application of photonic systems which use silicon as an optical medium. The silicon is usually patterned with sub-micrometre precision, into microphotonic components. These operate in the infrared, most commonly at the 1.55 micrometre wavelength used by most fiber optic telecommunication systems. The silicon typically lies on top of a layer of silica in what is known as silicon on insulator (SOI).

Fiber-optic communication method of transmitting information from one place to another by sending pulses of light through an optical fiber

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A distributed feedback laser (DFB) is a type of laser diode, quantum cascade laser or optical fiber laser where the active region of the device contains a periodically structured element or diffraction grating. The structure builds a one-dimensional interference grating and the grating provides optical feedback for the laser. This longitudinal diffraction grating has periodic changes in refractive index that cause reflection back into the cavity. The periodic change can be either in the real part of the refractive index, or in the imaginary part. The strongest grating operates in the first order - where the periodicity is one-half wave, and the light is reflected backwards. DFB lasers tend to be much more stable than Fabry-Perot or DBR lasers and are used frequently when clean single mode operation is needed, especially in high speed fiber optic telecommunications. Semiconductor DFB lasers in the lowest loss window of optical fibers at about 1.55um wavelength, amplified by Erbium-doped fiber amplifiers (EDFAs), dominate the long distance communication market, while DFB lasers in the lowest dispersion window at 1.3um are used at shorter distances.

A quantum well laser is a laser diode in which the active region of the device is so narrow that quantum confinement occurs. Laser diodes are formed in compound semiconductor materials that are able to emit light efficiently. The wavelength of the light emitted by a quantum well laser is determined by the width of the active region rather than just the bandgap of the material from which it is constructed. This means that much longer wavelengths can be obtained from quantum well lasers than from conventional laser diodes using a particular semiconductor material. The efficiency of a quantum well laser is also greater than a conventional laser diode due to the stepwise form of its density of states function.

Modulating retro-reflector

A modulating retro-reflector (MRR) system combines an optical retro-reflector and an optical modulator to allow optical communications and sometimes other functions such as programmable signage.

An optical modulator is an optical device which is used to modulate a beam of light with a perturbation device. It is a kind of transmitter to convert information to optical binary signal through optical fiber or transmission medium of optical frequency in fiber optic communication. There are several methods to manipulate this device depending on the parameter of a light beam like amplitude modulator (majority), phase modulator, polarization modulator etc. The easiest way to obtain modulation is modulation of intensity of a light by the current driving the light source. This sort of modulation is called direct modulation, as opposed to the external modulation performed by a light modulator. For this reason, light modulators are called external light modulators. According to manipulation of the properties of material modulators are divided into two groups, absorptive modulators and refractive modulators. Absorption coefficient can be manipulated by Franz-Keldysh effect, Quantum-Confined Stark Effect, excitonic absorption, or changes of free carrier concentration. Usually, if several such effects appear together, the modulator is called electro-absorptive modulator. Refractive modulators most often make use of electro-optic effect, other modulators are made with acousto-optic effect, magneto-optic effect such as Faraday and Cotton-Mouton effects. The other case of modulators is spatial light modulator (SLM) which is modified two dimensional distribution of amplitude & phase of an optical wave.


PhoSFOS is a research and technology development project co-funded by the European Commission.

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Interband cascade laser

Interband cascade lasers (ICLs) are a type of laser diode that can produce coherent radiation over a large part of the mid-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. They are fabricated from epitaxially-grown semiconductor heterostructures composed of layers of indium arsenide (InAs), gallium antimonide (GaSb), aluminum antimonide (AlSb), and related alloys. These lasers are similar to quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) in several ways. Like QCLs, ICLs employ the concept of bandstructure engineering to achieve an optimized laser design and reuse injected electrons to emit multiple photons. However, in ICLs, photons are generated with interband transitions, rather than the intersubband transitions used in QCLs. Consequently, the rate at which the carriers injected into the upper laser subband thermally relax to the lower subband is determined by interband Auger, radiative, and Shockley-Read carrier recombination. These processes typically occur on a much slower time scale than the longitudinal optical phonon interactions that mediates the intersubband relaxation of injected electrons in mid-IR QCLs. The use of interband transitions allows laser action in ICLs to be achieved at lower electrical input powers than is possible with QCLs.

In light-emitting diode physics, the recombination of electrons and electron holes in a semiconductor produce light, a process called "electroluminescence". The wavelength of the light produced depends on the energy band gap of the semiconductors used. Since these materials have a high index of refraction, design features of the devices such as special optical coatings and die shape are required to efficiently emit light. An LED is a long-lived light source, but certain mechanisms can cause slow loss of efficiency of the device or sudden failure. The wavelength of the light emitted is a function of the band gap of the semiconductor material used; materials such as gallium arsenide, and others, with various trace doping elements, are used to produce different colors of light. Another type of LED uses a quantum dot which can have its properties and wavelength adjusted by its size. Light-emitting diodes are widely used in indicator and display functions, and white LEDs are displacing other technologies for general illumination purposes.