Optical gain in 1.3-μm electrically driven dilute nitride VCSOAs
© Lisesivdin et al.; licensee Springer. 2014
Received: 17 October 2013
Accepted: 17 December 2013
Published: 13 January 2014
We report the observation of room-temperature optical gain at 1.3 μm in electrically driven dilute nitride vertical cavity semiconductor optical amplifiers. The gain is calculated with respect to injected power for samples with and without a confinement aperture. At lower injected powers, a gain of almost 10 dB is observed in both samples. At injection powers over 5 nW, the gain is observed to decrease. For nearly all investigated power levels, the sample with confinement aperture gives slightly higher gain.
KeywordsDilute nitride Optical injection Gain Vertical cavity semiconductor optical amplifiers
In x Ga1-xAs1-yN y semiconductor alloy was first proposed by Kondow et al. in 1996 , and considerable research attention has been devoted to this alloy system due to its possible optoelectronic applications at an operating wavelength of 1.3 μm. With the addition of small amounts of nitrogen into the (In)GaAs lattice, a strong electron confinement and bandgap reduction are obtained. Furthermore, addition of N allows band engineering, allowing the device operating wavelength range to extend up to 1.6 μm . An extensive set of different devices based on this alloy has been fabricated and demonstrated . Examples of these devices are vertical cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) [4–6], vertical external cavity surface-emitting lasers [7, 8], solar cells [8, 9], edge-emitting lasers , photodetectors , semiconductor optical amplifiers (SOAs) , and vertical cavity semiconductor optical amplifiers (VCSOAs) [13, 14].
VCSOAs can be seen as the natural evolution of SOAs, which, owing to their fast response, reduced size, and low-threshold nonlinear behavior, are popular in applications such as optical routing, signal regeneration, and wavelength shifting. Within these fields, VCSOAs have been used as optical preamplifiers, switches, and interconnects [15–17]. Their geometry provides numerous advantages over the edge-emitting counterpart SOAs, including low noise figure, circular emission, polarization insensitivity, possibility to build high-density two-dimensional arrays of devices that are easy to test on wafer, and low-power consumption that is instrumental for high-density photonic integrated circuits. Generally speaking, a VCSOA is a modified version of a VCSEL that is driven below lasing threshold. The first experimental study of an In x Ga1-xAs1-yN y /GaAs-based VCSOA was reported in 2002 , with a theoretical analysis published in 2004 . Several studies on optically pumped In x Ga1-xAs1-yN y VCSOAs have been published [14, 20–23], while electrically driven VCSOAs have been demonstrated only in ‘Hellish’ configuration . The present contribution builds on these technological developments to focus on an electrically driven multifunction standard VCSOA device operating in the 1.3-μm wavelength window.
The investigated VCSOA structure with a 3.5λ cavity is shown in Figure 1b. The structures were grown by a solid source molecular beam epitaxy reactor with a radio frequency plasma source for incorporating nitrogen. The growth was carried on an n-type GaAs(100) substrate, and the bottom and top distributed Bragg reflectors (DBRs) were doped with silicon (n-type) and beryllium (p-type), respectively. The two DBRs comprised 21 and 24 pairs of Al x Ga1-xAs/GaAs layers for the top and bottom DBR, respectively. The Al concentrations were x = 0.8 and 0.98 in the top and bottom DBRs, respectively. The confinement aperture, which is required for better carrier and light confinement, was defined in the uppermost layer of the bottom DBR. The active region contains three stacks of three 7-nm-thick In0.35Ga0.65As0.975 N0.025 quantum wells separated by 20-nm thick GaAs spacers. A set of several VCSOA samples was fabricated, having different dimensions of the top DBR mirror radius (R1), confinement aperture radius (R2), and bottom DBR radius (R3) for cases with and without the confinement aperture. In this paper, we compare the results obtained for two samples with and without confinement aperture, with R1 = 5 μm, R2 = 25 μm, and R3 = 50 μm.
Results and discussion
In this paper, we report the observation of gain in an electrically driven dilute nitride VCSOA device operated at 1.3-μm in reflection mode. Two different types of samples with and without confinement aperture are investigated. The ASE power peak is found to be at 1,288.5 nm with additional modes, which are caused by the length of the cavity. Optical gain is found to occur at low optical injection values. Above 5 nW of optical injection, the gain is found to fall rapidly. The maximum observed optical gain is observed at 1,288.5 nm at room temperature. The maximum observed optical gain at 7-mA current at room temperature is around 10 and 6 dB for samples with and without confinement aperture, respectively. It is important to mention that despite the small gain, the device is very promising because it requires very small currents compared with in-plane SOAs.
Support from EPSRC under grant EP/G023972/1 is gratefully acknowledged. Sefer Bora Lisesivdin also acknowledges partial support from the Turkish Scientific and Technological Research Council (TUBITAK) 2219 coded scholarship. COST Action MP0805 is also gratefully acknowledged.
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