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Das, Jnaneshwar (University of Southern California) “Data-driven Robotic Sampling for Marine Ecosystem Monitoring” Advisor: Sukhatme, Gaurav S. (2014)
Spontaneous emission into the lasing mode fundamentally limits laser linewidths. Reducing cavity losses provides two benefits to linewidth: (1) fewer excited carriers are needed to reach threshold, resulting in less phase-corrupting spontaneous emission into the laser mode, and (2) more photons are stored in the laser cavity, such that each individual spontaneous emission event disturbs the phase of the field less. Strong optical absorption in III-V materials causes high losses, preventing currently-available semiconductor lasers from achieving ultra-narrow linewidths. This absorption is a natural consequence of the compromise between efficient electrical and efficient optical performance in a semiconr laser. Some of the III-V layers must be heavily doped in order to funnel excited carriers into the active region, which has the side effect of making the material strongly absorbing.
This thesis presents a new technique, called modal engineering, to remove modal energy from the lossy region and store it in an adjacent low-loss material, thereby reducing overall optical absorption. A quantum mechanical analysis of modal engineering shows that modal gain and spontaneous emission rate into the laser mode are both proportional to the normalized intensity of that mode at the active region. If optical absorption near the active region dominates the total losses of the laser cavity, shifting modal energy from the lossy region to the low-loss region will reduce modal gain, total loss, and the spontaneous emission rate into the mode by the same factor, so that linewidth decreases while the threshold inversion remains constant. The total spontaneous emission rate into all other modes is unchanged.
Modal engineering is demonstrated using the Si/III-V platform, in which light is generated in the III-V material and stored in the low-loss silicon material. The silicon is patterned as a high-Q resonator to minimize all sources of loss. Fabricated lasers employing modal engineering to concentrate light in silicon demonstrate linewidths at least 5 times smaller than lasers without modal engineering at the same pump level above threshold, while maintaining the same thresholds.
For details, please visit the thesis page.
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