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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: C. Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 15, Iss. 15 — Jul. 23, 2007
  • pp: 9341–9346
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Microlensed microchip VECSEL

Nicolas Laurand, C. L. Lee, E. Gu, J.E. Hastie, Stephane Calvez, and Martin D. Dawson  »View Author Affiliations


Optics Express, Vol. 15, Issue 15, pp. 9341-9346 (2007)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OE.15.009341


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Abstract

We report a 1.055-µm microchip VECSEL array which uses a microlens-patterned diamond both as a heatspreader and as an array of concave output mirrors. This configuration, which is suitable for laser array operation, is here exploited to perform a systematic study of a set of microchip lasers with the same semiconductor structure but different cavity properties. The transverse mode selection of individual VECSELs is found to depend on the mode-matching conditions and on the microlens aperture size. Mode-matched single-device emission in the fundamental mode (M2~1.1) with pump-limited output power of 70 mW is demonstrated.

© 2007 Optical Society of America

1. Introduction

Vertical-External Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VECSELs) have attracted a lot of attention lately because of attractive attributes including high-power, circularly-symmetric output beams and versatility in operating wavelength. The main element constituting a VECSEL is the semiconductor active structure: it is made by a quantum well gain region grown on top of a distributed Bragg reflector (DBR). The laser cavity is usually completed by an external mirror, or mirrors, separated from the semiconductor chip by an air-gap. Heat removal from the gain region is important in these devices in order to maximize the output power. One way to do this efficiently is to capillary-bond a transparent high-thermal conductivity crystal as heatspreader on to the VECSEL surface [1

1. J.E Hastie, J.M. Hopkins, S. Calvez, C. W. Jeon, D. Burns, R. Abram, E. Riis, A.I. Ferguson, and M.D. Dawson, “0.5-W single transverse-mode operation of an 850-nm diode-pumped surface-emitting semiconductor laser,” IEEE Photonic. Technol. Lett. 15 (2003) 894–896. [CrossRef]

]. As well as facilitating power-scaling and broad wavelength coverage, this configuration has enabled a quasi-monolithic VECSEL format, the so-called microchip VECSEL (µ-VECSEL) [2

2. J.E. Hastie, J.M. Hopkins, C. W. Jeon, S. Calvez, D. Burns, M.D. Dawson, R. Abram, E. Riis, A.I. Ferguson, W.J. Alford, T.D. Raymond, and A.A. Allerman, “Microchip vertical external cavity surface emitting lasers,” Electron. Lett. 39 (2003) 1324–1326. [CrossRef]

, 3

3. S.A. Smith, J.M. Hopkins, J.E. Hastie, D. Burns, S. Calvez, M.D. Dawson, T. Jouhti, J. Kontinnen, and M. Pessa, “Diamond-microchip GaInNAs vertical external-cavity surface-emitting laser operating CW at 1315 nm,” Electron. Lett. 40 (2004) 935–937. [CrossRef]

]. In this particular case, the heatspreader is directly mirror-coated on its outer surface, creating a plane-plane cavity. The µ-VECSEL is therefore an integrated version of the VECSEL with potential for volume production.

One drawback of the µ-VECSEL is that the laser cavity is mainly stabilized by a thermal lens appearing in the gain region when it is being pumped [4

4. A.J. Kemp, A.J. Maclean, J.E. Hastie, S.A. Smith, J.M. Hopkins, S. Calvez, G.J. Valentine, M.D. Dawson, and D. Burns, “Thermal lensing, thermal management and transverse mode control in microchip VECSELs,” Appl. Phys. B-Laser O. 83 (2006) 189–194. [CrossRef]

]. As the power is ramped up, the thermal lens effect increases and the fundamental mode spot size in the active region decreases. This means that mode-matching the pump to the fundamental laser mode is possible for one given power only and the output beam quality tends to degrade (due to the appearance of higher transverse modes) as the power is varied. To overcome this problem and ensure stable fundamental mode operation, a microchip laser having a plano-concave cavity is preferable [5

5. R.I. Aldaz, M. W. Wiemer, D.A.B. Miller, and J.S. Harris, “Monolithically-integrated long vertical cavity surface emitting laser incorporating a concave micromirror on a glass substrate,” Opt. Express 12 (2004) 3967–3971. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

-8

8. G.A. Keeler, D.K. Serkland, K.M. Geib, G.M. Peake, and A. Mar, “Single transverse mode operation of electrically pumped vertical-external-cavity surface-emitting lasers with micromirrors,” IEEE Photonic. Technol. Lett. 17 (2005) 522–524. [CrossRef]

], because the mode size is then mainly determined by the physical characteristics of the cold cavity.

2. Device design and fabrication

The 1055-nm-emitting micro-lensed µ-VECSELs under study are constituted of a semiconductor part liquid-capillarity bonded to a single-crystal diamond heatspreader, whose outer surface has been shaped into an array of spherical micro-lenses (µ-lenses) and subsequently mirror-coated. The semiconductor structure includes 10 InGaAs strain-compensated QWs (one per antinode) grown on top of a 30.5-pair AlAs/Al0.2Ga0.8As DBR. The micro-lenses are fabricated using the ‘resist-reflow’ technique followed by a inductively coupled plasma etching using Ar/O2 [9

9. H. W. Choi, E. Gu, C. Liu, C. Griffin, J.M. Girkin, I.M. Watson, and M.D. Dawson, “Fabrication of natural diamond microlenses by plasma etching,” J. Vac. Sci. Technol. B 23 (2005) 130–132. [CrossRef]

]. The lenses obtained are accurately spherical with a rms roughness less than 3 nm [9

9. H. W. Choi, E. Gu, C. Liu, C. Griffin, J.M. Girkin, I.M. Watson, and M.D. Dawson, “Fabrication of natural diamond microlenses by plasma etching,” J. Vac. Sci. Technol. B 23 (2005) 130–132. [CrossRef]

]. A SiO2/TiO2 coating with nominal peak reflectivity of 95% at 1.055 µm, anti-reflection at 808 nm, was deposited onto the diamond outer surface in order to create the concave output couplers. A schematic of an individual plano-concave µ-VECSEL cavity is shown in Fig. 1. Fig. 2 shows a picture of the final µ-VECSEL array, where different µ-lenses (acting as concave micromirrors), having a diameter d ranging from 10 to 100 µm, are distributed over different sections of the array. The other devices parameters (as shown in Fig. 1) are t ~250 µm, h ~ 0.75 µm and the micro-lens radius of curvature R is given by R=(d 2+4h 2)/(8h).

Fig. 1. Schematic of an individual µ-VECSEL.
Fig. 2. Picture of the µ-VECSEL array.

3. Single µ-VECSEL experiment

In this section, we study the characteristics of individual µ-VECSELs having different lens diameters. A schematic of the experimental set-up is shown in Fig. 3. The µ-VECSEL array is directly mounted on a copper holder held at 10°C. The holder is fixed on a XYZ translation stage for alignment. The device is pumped, through the heatspreader, with polarization-coupled 810-nm diode lasers. The pump beam, with up to 210 mW of average power, is delivered using a 15-mm focal length lens (NA~0.25), yielding pump spot size in the 13-30-µm range. As can be seen in Fig. 3, the µ-VECSEL signal is separated from the pump by the use of a dichroic mirror followed by a high-pass filter.

Fig. 3. Left: Experimental set-up. Right: schematic of the single µ-VECSEL probing.

The equivalent plane-plane µ-VECSEL is characterized first by probing a region with no lenses (such a region can be seen at the bottom centre of Fig. 2). Figs. 4 (a) and 4 (b) show the results. A 25-mW threshold and a pump limited output power of 60 mW are found. As expected [4

4. A.J. Kemp, A.J. Maclean, J.E. Hastie, S.A. Smith, J.M. Hopkins, S. Calvez, G.J. Valentine, M.D. Dawson, and D. Burns, “Thermal lensing, thermal management and transverse mode control in microchip VECSELs,” Appl. Phys. B-Laser O. 83 (2006) 189–194. [CrossRef]

], the M2 varies with the power indicating that the mode-matching condition changes with the power. At 50 mW output power the M2 is 1.9.

Fig. 4. Plane-plane µ VECSEL (a): Output power transfer function (b): M2 measurements.

An example of M2 measurements for the 90-µm µ-VECSEL is shown in Fig 5 (c), while results for all devices are plotted in Fig. 5 (b). The µ-VECSELs operate in the TEM00 mode with M2<1.3 for lens diameters above 75 µm (M2~1.1 for the 90-µm device). The 50-µm µ-VECSEL has a device M2~2.8. The 42-µm has a lower M2 of 1.6. This can also be explained by the increasing aperture losses filtering out the highest order modes. Unlike the plane-plane case, M2 values are found not to vary significantly with the power.

In Fig. 5 (d), spectra for the 90, 50 and 42-µm µ-VECSELs at their respective full powers are plotted. Depending on the operation conditions, the spectrum consists of one or several peaks (separated by 0.9 nm) representing the longitudinal modes. The spectrum is similar for other devices, except that satellite peaks, due to the presence of transverse modes [6

6. K.S. Kim, Y.H. Lee, B.Y. Jung, and C.K. Hwangbo, “Single mode operation of a curved-mirror vertical-emitting laser with an active distributed Bragg reflector,” Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 2 41 (2002) L827–L829. [CrossRef]

], are present in the 50-µm µ-VECSEL case.

Fig. 5. (a): Devices’ power transfer functions, (b): summary of M2values, (c): Examples of M2 measurements for the 90 µm device. Inset: beam image at full power, (d): Spectrum at full power of the 90-µm, 50-µm and 42-µm devices.

These results show that plano-concave cavities can be a solution to ensure stable single-transverse mode lasing in µ-VECSELs at power levels of several tens of mW.

4. Micro-lensed µ-chip analysis

ω0=[tλnπnR1]12
(1)

In Eq. (1), λ is the wavelength in vacuum, n is the heatspreader refractive index (and for diamond at λ~1 µm, n~2.42) and R is the radius of curvature of the micro-lens.

Fig. 6. Fundamental mode (2ω0) and pump (2ωp) diameter evolution as a function of the lens diameter d (bottom axis) and of the radius of curvature R (top axis).

From Fig. 6 we can see that the fundamental mode ω0 size increases with the lens diameter d (resp. R) and that a cut-off exists at d=25 µm (R~105 µm). The cavity is therefore stable only for d>25 µm. For d varying from 40 to 100 µm (R~267 to 1667 µm) the fundamental mode diameter ranges from 12 to 22.5 µm. The plano-concave cold cavity supports a wide range of transverse modes, which can be written in a basis of Hermite-Gaussian or Laguerre-Gaussian modes (noted TEMmn where the fundamental mode is TEM00). The number of modes that can lase depends first on the overall gain seen by the different modes. This means that it depends on the mode-matching conditions. If the pump spot size matches the fundamental mode size, the laser operates mainly in the TEM00 mode because the higher order modes have a bigger spot size. On the other hand, if the pump spot is big enough to excite higher order modes, then the laser tends to operate in a superposition of modes.

Due to its finite transverse size, the concave mirror (i.e. the µ-lenses) also acts as an aperture and introduces a certain amount of loss for the transverse modes. To illustrate this point, we plot in Fig. 7, for a few Hermite-Gaussian modes, the losses L due to the reflection on the concave mirror. This was done by taking the overlap integral of the mode power over a circular aperture and dividing it by the total power carried by the mode.

L=aperture[Hm(2xω)]2[Hn(2yω)]2exp(2x2y2ω2)dxdy++[Hm(2xω)]2[Hn(2yω)]2exp(2x2y2ω2)dxdy
(2)

In Eq. (2), Hm and Hn are the Hermite polynomial of order m and n respectively, x and y are the spatial Cartesian coordinates. Here, ω is the fundamental mode radius at the aperture plane and can be deduced from 0 ω using the standard Gaussian propagation formulas. The denominator of Eq. (2) is equal to [10

10. K.F. Riley, S.J. Hobson, and S.J. Bence, Mathematical methods for physics and engineering (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

]: (2mm! √π) (2n n! √π)ω 2/2. The results are shown in Fig. 7.

Fig. 7. Aperture losses of a few Hermite-Gaussian modes reflecting on concave micro-mirrors.

The losses increase for decreasing mirror diameter, i.e. aperture. Losses are higher for higher order modes because of their bigger size. The aperture of the concave mirror therefore acts as a filter for the higher order modes. This feature can be interesting in order to reduce the number of µ-VECSEL transverse modes when the condition of mode-matching is not fulfilled. It explains the improvement in the M2 and the cleaner optical spectrum (see Fig. 5 (d)) at d=42 µm (when compared to d=50 µm) even though the mode-mismatch is worse for this device. However, TEM00 losses need to be kept at a minimum and consequently the µ-lenses aperture needs to be wide enough to accommodate the fundamental mode. Please note that Fig. 7 represents the losses incurred by the mode for one reflection. However, the lasing modes experience many round-trips in the cavity and the aperture effect is exacerbated. In consequence, such µ-VECSELs with µ-lens diameter below 30 µm are too lossy to reach lasing threshold.

The combination of the two phenomena discussed above is believed to be the cause for the dramatic decrease in the slope efficiency at low d recorded in section 3.

5. Conclusion

In this paper, we have reported the demonstration of monolithic micro-lensed µ-VECSELs. The devices were fabricated by micro-patterning a diamond heatspreader in a µ-lens array format. The heatspreader was then high-reflection coated and capillary-bonded to a semiconductor DBR-active region structure to create the µ-VECSEL array. We have studied the importance of mode-matching the pump beam and of the µ-lens aperture in the selection of the lasing modes. Mode-matched µ-lensed µ-VECSELs were found to address the main issue of plane-plane µ-VECSELs, by ensuring stable fundamental mode emission. Pump limited output power up to 70 mW and slope efficiency of 35% were reported. Higher pump power should readily enable these devices to reach powers above 100 mW. Increasing the micro-lens radius of curvature in order to increase the mode size in the active region should allow the use of higher power pump laser. This, in conjunction with the mode diameter increase, should yield microchip devices emitting several hundreds of mW in the fundamental mode.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the European Union for funding this work under the Framework 6, NATAL project and would like to thank Dr T. Kim of Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology for providing the semiconductor part of the VECSEL.

References and links

1.

J.E Hastie, J.M. Hopkins, S. Calvez, C. W. Jeon, D. Burns, R. Abram, E. Riis, A.I. Ferguson, and M.D. Dawson, “0.5-W single transverse-mode operation of an 850-nm diode-pumped surface-emitting semiconductor laser,” IEEE Photonic. Technol. Lett. 15 (2003) 894–896. [CrossRef]

2.

J.E. Hastie, J.M. Hopkins, C. W. Jeon, S. Calvez, D. Burns, M.D. Dawson, R. Abram, E. Riis, A.I. Ferguson, W.J. Alford, T.D. Raymond, and A.A. Allerman, “Microchip vertical external cavity surface emitting lasers,” Electron. Lett. 39 (2003) 1324–1326. [CrossRef]

3.

S.A. Smith, J.M. Hopkins, J.E. Hastie, D. Burns, S. Calvez, M.D. Dawson, T. Jouhti, J. Kontinnen, and M. Pessa, “Diamond-microchip GaInNAs vertical external-cavity surface-emitting laser operating CW at 1315 nm,” Electron. Lett. 40 (2004) 935–937. [CrossRef]

4.

A.J. Kemp, A.J. Maclean, J.E. Hastie, S.A. Smith, J.M. Hopkins, S. Calvez, G.J. Valentine, M.D. Dawson, and D. Burns, “Thermal lensing, thermal management and transverse mode control in microchip VECSELs,” Appl. Phys. B-Laser O. 83 (2006) 189–194. [CrossRef]

5.

R.I. Aldaz, M. W. Wiemer, D.A.B. Miller, and J.S. Harris, “Monolithically-integrated long vertical cavity surface emitting laser incorporating a concave micromirror on a glass substrate,” Opt. Express 12 (2004) 3967–3971. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

6.

K.S. Kim, Y.H. Lee, B.Y. Jung, and C.K. Hwangbo, “Single mode operation of a curved-mirror vertical-emitting laser with an active distributed Bragg reflector,” Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 2 41 (2002) L827–L829. [CrossRef]

7.

A.M. Sarangan and G.M. Peake, “Enhancement of lateral mode discrimination in broad-area VCSELs using curved Bragg mirrors,” J. Lightwave Technol. 22 (2004) 543–549. [CrossRef]

8.

G.A. Keeler, D.K. Serkland, K.M. Geib, G.M. Peake, and A. Mar, “Single transverse mode operation of electrically pumped vertical-external-cavity surface-emitting lasers with micromirrors,” IEEE Photonic. Technol. Lett. 17 (2005) 522–524. [CrossRef]

9.

H. W. Choi, E. Gu, C. Liu, C. Griffin, J.M. Girkin, I.M. Watson, and M.D. Dawson, “Fabrication of natural diamond microlenses by plasma etching,” J. Vac. Sci. Technol. B 23 (2005) 130–132. [CrossRef]

10.

K.F. Riley, S.J. Hobson, and S.J. Bence, Mathematical methods for physics and engineering (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

OCIS Codes
(140.5960) Lasers and laser optics : Semiconductor lasers
(250.7270) Optoelectronics : Vertical emitting lasers

ToC Category:
Lasers and Laser Optics

History
Original Manuscript: March 16, 2007
Revised Manuscript: June 5, 2007
Manuscript Accepted: June 9, 2007
Published: July 13, 2007

Citation
Nicolas Laurand, C. L. Lee, E. Gu, J. E. Hastie, Stephane Calvez, and Martin D. Dawson, "Microlensed microchip VECSEL," Opt. Express 15, 9341-9346 (2007)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-15-15-9341


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References

  1. J.E. Hastie, J.M. Hopkins, S. Calvez, C.W. Jeon, D. Burns, R. Abram, E. Riis, A.I. Ferguson, M.D. Dawson, "0.5-W single transverse-mode operation of an 850-nm diode-pumped surface-emitting semiconductor laser," IEEE Photonic. Technol. Lett. 15 (2003) 894-896. [CrossRef]
  2. J.E. Hastie, J.M. Hopkins, C.W. Jeon, S. Calvez, D. Burns, M.D. Dawson, R. Abram, E. Riis, A.I. Ferguson, W.J. Alford, T.D. Raymond, A.A. Allerman, "Microchip vertical external cavity surface emitting lasers," Electron. Lett. 39 (2003) 1324-1326. [CrossRef]
  3. S.A. Smith, J.M. Hopkins, J.E. Hastie, D. Burns, S. Calvez, M.D. Dawson, T. Jouhti, J. Kontinnen, M. Pessa, "Diamond-microchip GaInNAs vertical external-cavity surface-emitting laser operating CW at 1315 nm," Electron. Lett. 40 (2004) 935-937. [CrossRef]
  4. A.J. Kemp, A.J. Maclean, J.E. Hastie, S.A. Smith, J.M. Hopkins, S. Calvez, G.J. Valentine, M.D. Dawson, D. Burns, "Thermal lensing, thermal management and transverse mode control in microchip VECSELs," Appl. Phys. B-Laser O. 83 (2006) 189-194. [CrossRef]
  5. R.I. Aldaz, M.W. Wiemer, D.A.B. Miller, J.S. Harris, "Monolithically-integrated long vertical cavity surface emitting laser incorporating a concave micromirror on a glass substrate," Opt. Express 12 (2004) 3967-3971. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  6. K.S. Kim, Y.H. Lee, B.Y. Jung, C.K. Hwangbo, "Single mode operation of a curved-mirror vertical-emitting laser with an active distributed Bragg reflector," Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 241 (2002) L827-L829. [CrossRef]
  7. A.M. Sarangan, G.M. Peake, "Enhancement of lateral mode discrimination in broad-area VCSELs using curved Bragg mirrors," J. Lightwave Technol. 22 (2004) 543-549. [CrossRef]
  8. G.A. Keeler, D.K. Serkland, K.M. Geib, G.M. Peake, A. Mar, "Single transverse mode operation of electrically pumped vertical-external-cavity surface-emitting lasers with micromirrors," IEEE Photonic. Technol. Lett. 17 (2005) 522-524. [CrossRef]
  9. H.W. Choi, E. Gu, C. Liu, C. Griffin, J.M. Girkin, I.M. Watson, M.D. Dawson, "Fabrication of natural diamond microlenses by plasma etching," J. Vac. Sci. Technol. B 23 (2005) 130-132. [CrossRef]
  10. K.F. Riley, S.J. Hobson, S.J. Bence, Mathematical methods for physics and engineering (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

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