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Chapter 3:

Lasers and Modules


Optical Sources

• Many types of optical sources are available


– Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
– Solid state lasers
– Gas lasers
– Semiconductor lasers
– Fiber lasers

• Semiconductor Lasers are preferred


– Powered by electrical energy
– Directly converts electrical signals to optical signals
Semiconductor Laser Features
• High modulation bandwidth (> 10 Gbit/s)
• Small size
– Packaged: ~ 2×1×1 cm
– Unpackaged: ~ grain of salt, 0.5mm × 200m × 100m
• Intense single spatial mode
• Energy efficient
• Narrow spectral linewidth
• Can be single longitudinal mode (monochromatic)
• Reliable operation
• Can be integrated
What does LASER stand for?
LASER is an acronym for:

LIGHT
AMPLIFICATION by
STIMULATED
EMISSION of
RADIATION
• How does it work?
• Why amplification?
• What is stimulated emission?
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How does a Laser work?
A functional view of a laser: 4 main parts

3) Optical Resonator (Cavity)

1) Active (Gain) Medium


4) Losses:
Material and Waveguide

Mirrors Mirrors
2) Energy Pump
Mirror Mirror
(Current Source)
Loss Loss
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Basic Laser Structure
Fabry-Perot Laser

Wires + Laser Active


(connection to Region
current source)
Light

Cleaved facet
(partial mirror)
-
Heat Sink

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Double heterostructure
A Basic Laser Structure

Fabry-Perot Laser (longitudinal section)

Active region Holes + Energy Pump


(provides gain) (Current Source)
photons
P-layer

PN Junction

N-layer

Cleaved facet Cleaved facet


(partial
- Electrons (partial
mirror) mirror)
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How does a Laser produce
Light?
• Need to consider three optical transition processes:
- Absorption
- Spontaneous emission
- Stimulated emission

Energy level diagrams

Excited state
(High Energy)
Energy

BAND GAP
Ground state
(Low Energy)

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Optical Absorption Process
• Absorption: a photon with energy > (E2 – E1)
• The photon’s energy can be absorbed by an
electron in state E1, thus exciting it to state E2

Excited state
E2
photon
photon absorbed

Ground state
E1

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Optical Emission Processes
• Spontaneous Emission: electron in excited state E2
can spontaneously decay to state E1

• A photon with energy hf > (E2 – E1) is emitted

Excited state
E2

photon
Ground state
E1

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Optical Emission Processes
Light produced by spontaneous emission:
– Random propagation direction
– Random phase
– Random frequency
– is incoherent (broad linewidth)

Excited state
E2

Ground state
E1

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Optical Emission Processes
• Stimulated Emission
• A photon with energy > (E2 – E1): triggers transition
of an excited electron  identical photon is emitted
• Produced light is coherent (desirable)

Excited state
E2
photon
Identical
photon
Ground state
E1

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Optical Transition Processes
• All three processes related (Einstein Relations)
• At thermal equilibrium, absorption = emission
• Electrons mostly in state E1: (N2 << N1)
• Spontaneous emission dominates

Population Excited state


N2 E2

Population Ground state


N1 E1

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Population Inversion
• Stimulated emission – coherent light, desirable
• Need electrons to be mostly in state E2
• Population inversion achieved by electrical pumping
• N2 >> N1, stimulated emission dominates

Population Excited state


N2 E2

Population Ground state


N1 E1

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Optical Cavity and Feedback
• Light amplification by stimulated emission…
is not strong, especially if the active region is short
• Optical cavity provides feedback into active region
• Light is reflected repeatedly and greatly amplified

N2 Excited state
E2

Ground state
N1 E1
along the laser
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Optical Losses and Laser
Output
• One mirror is partially transmitting, to get output
• Photons transmitted out are lost (mirror loss)
• Other losses: scattering in the material,
nonradiative processes

N2 Excited state
E2

Ground state
N1 E1
along the laser
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Laser Spectrum (Gain vs. λ
Curve)
• Laser oscillation (lasing) occurs over a range of λ
• Due to distribution of E2 and E1 around mean values

Electron Population B

Gain
E
Distribution
A hf
E2
C
Probability Lowest Energy
BANDGAP Transition (A)
Probability
Most Probable
E1 Energy Transition (B)
Hole Population Highest EnergyTransition,
E Distribution more likely to be absorbed (C)

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Lasing Conditions
For lasing to initiate in a cavity, two conditions
need to be satisfied:
– Gain condition:
The electric field of the light, after completing one round trip
inside the cavity, should have the same amplitude
– Phase condition:
The electric field of the light, after completing one round trip
inside the cavity, should have the same phase

one round trip

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Gain Condition
r2E(2L) r1E(L)

E(0) E(L)
r1r2E(2L)

Cavity Length, L

Gain Condition: E(t,0) = E(t,2L)


E(t,0) = A exp(jt); E(t, 2L) = Ar1r2exp[2L(g-i)]exp[j(t-2L)]
To satisfy the Gain Condition: r1r2exp[(g- i)2L] = 1
1 ln 1
The threshold gain: gth = i+
2L r1r2
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Phase Condition
Integral number of cycles must fit within the cavity

4jnL 4jnL
Phase: exp(-2jL) = exp (- ) = 1, = 2m
 

Resonant cavity – discrete set of spectral lines


P


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Phase Condition
Discrete modes that can be supported by the cavity
are called longitudinal modes
P

Mode interval:  

2nL
Phase condition: =m

Thus: 2
=
2nL
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Laser Spectrum: Gain & Phase
Conditions met
Power spectral density
Cavity mode

Gain Curve


Dominant mode Side modes
Gain  Loss Gain < Loss
Power spectral density

Lasing spectrum 
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Another Laser Structure:
DFB Laser

Refractive Index
Power spectral
Grating

Cavity modes
density

Gain Curve

DFB Gain
frequency Curve
Power spectral

Lasing spectrum
density

frequency

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Another Laser Structure:
DFB Laser
/4

1/4-wave shifted
Grating
Power spectral

Cavity modes
density

Gain Curve
1/4-wave shifted
DFB Gain Curve
frequency
Power spectral

Lasing spectrum
density

frequency

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Laser Structures
Rate Equation
Rate equation describe the dynamic interaction
between excited electrons and photons
Change in carrier density:
dn I n
= - - vggs
dt qV 

Contribute Decay of Usage of electron by


from Current electrons Stimulated emission

Change in photon density:


ds =v a(n-n )s - s n
g 0  + 
dt p 
Photon generated by Decay of Photon generated by
stimulated emission photon Spontaneous emission
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Light-Current Characteristics
• The L-I curve: output light power vs. input current
• Diode characteristics, threshold current Ith
• For I > Ith, light power increases linearly with I

Light
output
(power)

Spontaneous Stimulated
emission emission
region region

Ith current

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Temperature dependence
T 
I th  I 0 exp 
 T0 
Direct-Current Modulation
The information is encoded on semiconductor lasers
by current modulation

Light I Modulated
output Laser Light
(power)
p

Ith Current current


modulation

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Small signal modulation

Suppose the injected current:

I t   I b  I m gt  I

Ib Bias current

Im Modulation current
Current

2Im
Ib

time
Laser Dynamics: Chirp
• Chirping of the laser output signal (pulses)
• Instantaneous frequency of the signal changes
• Leads to increased dispersion (broadening)
power

Frequency

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Directly Modulated DFB Laser
• The power waveform and chirp of the directly modulated DFB laser are shown below
• The leading edge of the pulses have an strong overshoot.
• In Direct modulated lasers, the presence of the data signal produces large changes in the
effective refractive index. This results in large phase shifts during the transitions of the
data (transient chirp) as well as a long-term shift in the laser frequency (adiabatic chirp).
Direct modulated lasers generally produce more chirp for higher extinction ratios.
• About 70GHz blue chirp exists on the leading edge and 40GHz red chirp on the trailing
edge. The adiabatic chirp is about 55GHz.
Laser Dynamics:
Modulation Bandwidth
• Determines maximum direct modulation speed
• Increases with increasing drive (bias) current
• Within practical limits, get multi-GHz modulation

+10
Light A B
output
(power) 0

B
-10

A
-20

current
100MHz 500MHz 2GHz 10GHz

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Laser Dynamics:
Turn On Delay
Delay between injection of current and generation of light
Current A

Carrier C E t
G
density

D t
Light F
Turn on H
output delay
(power)
B

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Relative Intensity Noise (RIN) and phase noise
Two fundamental noise mechanisms:
• spontaneous emission (dominating)
• shot noise (electron-hole recombination)

E_out= E_stimulated + noise


at random time
Intensity fluctuation + phase fluctuation with time

Intensity noise Spectral linewidth


relaxation
Laser Dynamics:
Relative Intensity Noise
Frequency shape of RIN depends on laser driving conditions

Light
output
(power) 3
RIN

1
2
2
3

1
Frequency
Current

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Phase noise

Power

Power
linewidth

wavelength wavelength

Ideal single-mode laser Real single-mode laser


Commercial Fabry-Perot semiconductor laser
DFB lasers
B
B
Various Tx

Optical HDMI

• LED
• 850 nm
• Multimode fiber
• ST connector

1G/10G Dual-Rate SFP+ transceivers