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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: C. Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 16, Iss. 8 — Apr. 14, 2008
  • pp: 5790–5796
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Nonuniform output characteristics of laser diode with wet-etched spot-size converter

Joong-Seon Choe, Yong-Hwan Kwon, Sung-Bock Kim, and Jung Jin Ju  »View Author Affiliations


Optics Express, Vol. 16, Issue 8, pp. 5790-5796 (2008)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OE.16.005790


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Abstract

We study the output characteristics of spot-size converter (SSC) integrated buried heterostructure (BH) laser diode (LD) by forming SSC with wet etching process. SSC-LD shows large chip-to-chip variation in threshold current(Ith) and slope efficiency (ηslope) compared to LD without SSC. Ith and ηslope are closely related with each other so that the front facet ηslope increases while the rear facet ηslope decreases with Ith. Far-field angle is also found to be proportional to the front facet ηslope. The trends observed are explained clearly by a unidirectional loss occurring when photons travel from the front to rear facet.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

1. Introduction

Laser diodes (LD’s) are widely used in many fields as coherent light sources. While application area covers laser display, optical pickup, and biomedical diagnostics, the main usage of LD is still signal source in optical communication[1

1. Y.-H. Kwon, J.-S. Choe, J. Kim, K. Kim, K.-S. Choi, B.-S. Choi, and H. Yun, “Fabrication of 40 Gb/s front-end optical receivers using spot-size converter integrated waveguide photodiodes,” ETRI Journal 27, 484–490 (2005). [CrossRef]

]. Conventional edge emitting LD has large farfield angle about 30° that causes poor coupling efficiency with a single-mode fiber. In order to reduce the coupling loss, several methods are used such as integration of spot-size converter (SSC), insertion of microlens between LD and fiber, and using a tapered fiber. Among them, the integration of SSC in LD is the most attractive in that it is cost-effective and efficient in improving mode matching [2

2. H. Oohashi, M. Fukuda, Y. Kondo, M. Wada, Y. Tohmori, Y. Sakai, H. Toda, and Y. Itaya, “Reliability of 1300-nm spot-size converter integrated laser diodes for low-cost optical modules in access networks,” J. Lightwave Technol. 16, 1302–1307 (1998). [CrossRef]

].

SSC integrated LD (SSC-LD) is composed of light-generating and mode-converting part. Optical mode generated and amplified in the former gets large in size propagating along the latter for narrower far-field. Mode-converting part has vertical or lateral taper that transfers the mode of active waveguide to passive waveguide [3

3. Y. Itaya, Y. Tohmori, and H. Toba, “Spot-size converter integrated laser diodes (SS-LDs),” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 3, 968–974 (1997). [CrossRef]

].

In SSC-LD, the slope efficiency (η slope) of the front facet (η front) is generally larger than that of the rear facet (η rear) [4

4. H. S. Cho, K. H. Park, J. K. Lee, D. H. Jang, J. S. Kim, K. S. Park, C. S. Park, and K. E. Pyun, “Unbalanced facet output power and large spot size in 1.3 µm tapered active stripe lasers,” Electron. Lett. 33, 781–782 (1997). [CrossRef]

, 5

5. S.-W. Ryu, S.-B. Kim, J.-S. Sim, and J. Kim, “1.55-µm spot-size converter integrated laser diode with conventional buried-heterostructure laser process,” IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 15, 12–14 (2003). [CrossRef]

]. It was shown that the difference in η slope is caused by unidirectional loss that occurs when light propagates along the direction from SSC to the rear facet [6

6. A. Lestra and J.-Y. Emery, “Monolithic integration of spot-size converters with 1.3-µm lasers and 1.55-mm polarization insensitive semiconductor optical amplifiers,” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 3, 1429–1440 (1997). [CrossRef]

]. According to Ref. [6

6. A. Lestra and J.-Y. Emery, “Monolithic integration of spot-size converters with 1.3-µm lasers and 1.55-mm polarization insensitive semiconductor optical amplifiers,” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 3, 1429–1440 (1997). [CrossRef]

], η slope would be equal for both the facets if the mode transition occurs adiabatically. Therefore the slope efficiency ratio (SER) η front/η rear can be a figure of merit for evaluating SSC as well as far-field angle.

The taper formation requires patterning and etching of the taper tip. Minute parts like SSC taper are much influenced if a deviation is generated during the process. In SSC-LD, wet process is usually adopted for the active region etching because it produces better etching sidewall adequate for growing current block layers in buried heterostructure (BH) LD [7

7. B. T. Lee, R. A. Logan, R. F. Kalicek, Jr., A. M. Sergent, D. L. Coblentz, K. W. Wecht, and T. Tanbun-Ek, “Fabrication of InGaAsP/InP buried heterostructure laser using reactive ion etching and metalorganic chemical vapor deposition,” IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 5, 279–281 (1993). [CrossRef]

]. However, wet etching is generally apt to result in inhomogeneous etching depth over the wafer and nonuniform device characteristics. Dry etching is better in uniformity, but not adequate if epitaxial regrowth should follow.

In this study, SSC-LD with lateral wet-etched taper was fabricated. SSC fabrication process produced wide device performance variation, observed in output characteristics. This paper discusses the correlation between the output characteristics of η slope, threshold current (I th), and far-field angle.

2. Experiment

Fig. 1. Schematic structure of 1.3µm SSC-LD. The structure is similar to that of conventional BH LD except for the active region etched to taper shape and passive core beneath the lower cladding layer.

Figure 1 shows the schematic structure diagram of the SSC-LD fabricated. Fabrication process begins by metalorganic chemical vapor depsition growth of epitaxial layers including quantum wells (λ=1.3µm), passive waveguide, and lower cladding layer. After the first growth, the active region pattern with taper is formed though the conventional photolithography process. The tip width of the taper on the mask image is designed 0.7µm in consideration of the undercut during wet etching.

Active region was etched by HBr:H2O2:H2O=16:4:100 solution. HBr solution is widely used in BH LD fabrication process due to its clear etching sidewall and low etching selectivity [7

7. B. T. Lee, R. A. Logan, R. F. Kalicek, Jr., A. M. Sergent, D. L. Coblentz, K. W. Wecht, and T. Tanbun-Ek, “Fabrication of InGaAsP/InP buried heterostructure laser using reactive ion etching and metalorganic chemical vapor deposition,” IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 5, 279–281 (1993). [CrossRef]

].

After the wafer was etched in the active region including taper, p-n-p current blocking layers, upper cladding, and p-contact layer were grown successively. Dry etching for 10-µm-wide ridge formation, polyimide passivation, p-metal evaporation, lapping, n-metal evaporation, and cleaving process completed the fabrication. The devices with 600µm length were composed of 300-µm-long non-tapered region, 250-µm-long tapered region, and 50-µm-long passive region. As well as SSC-LD’s, non-SSC BH LD’s were fabricated during SSC-LD process, thus have the same cross-sectinal structure as non-tapered region of SSC-LD. Cavity length of non-SSC LD was 600µm, and no dielectric coating was deposited on the facets,

The characterization of the devices were performed in chip bars. The current-output (I-L) characteristics were measured using integrating sphere in order to rule out coupling loss. Current source operated under pulsed-mode (t on=t off=50µsec) and the temperature of the device stage was set at 25°C.

Fig. 2. I-L characteristics of SSC-LD’s in a chip bar. As previously reported [4, 5], the slope efficiency from the front facet with SSC is larger than that from the rear facet. Inset is the data for non-SSC LD’s. Comparing the two data, I-L curves of SSC-LD show larger spread.

3. Result

Figure 2 shows I-L data of SSC-LD’s in a chip bar. Slight rollover is observed in I-L curves at high current region due to the thermal effect in spite of the pulsed operation. Although the devices were located close to each other in the wafer, I-L characteristic shows large variation both in η slope and I th. The deviation is so large that the output power from the front facet varies from 20 to 22 mW at 100 mA. Compared with SSC-LD, nearly the same performance was observed from non-SSC LD’s and the output power deviation is as small as 0.5 mWat 100 mA, as in inset of Fig.2. This shows that material inhomogeneity or etching depth difference for the LD active region does not affect much the LD performance.

SSC-LD has SSC and passive waveguide as well as conventional LD part. Therefore those additive parts of SSC-LD are the origin of the chip-to-chip performance deviation. SSC transfers optical mode from active/passive waveguide to passive/active waveguide with its adiabatically varying effective index. The adiabaticity in the effective index, attained by the taper structure of SSC, is much influenced by small variation in physical dimensions because of the fineness of the taper structure.

I-L characteristics of SSC-LD is generally different for each facets. As in Fig. 2 slope efficiency from the facet near SSC (front facet) is larger than that from the opposite facet (rear facet). The reason for the different optical output was explained as the nonadiabaticity of the SSC [6

6. A. Lestra and J.-Y. Emery, “Monolithic integration of spot-size converters with 1.3-µm lasers and 1.55-mm polarization insensitive semiconductor optical amplifiers,” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 3, 1429–1440 (1997). [CrossRef]

]. The variation observed in I-L curves suggests that even in a chip bar SSC’s nonadiabaticity varies much from chip to chip. Cho et al. reported that SER depends on the length of nontapered part in SSC-LD [4

4. H. S. Cho, K. H. Park, J. K. Lee, D. H. Jang, J. S. Kim, K. S. Park, C. S. Park, and K. E. Pyun, “Unbalanced facet output power and large spot size in 1.3 µm tapered active stripe lasers,” Electron. Lett. 33, 781–782 (1997). [CrossRef]

]. However, their analysis is not applied to the devices in Fig. 2 that are in a chip bar providing devices with the same nontapered active region length.

From Fig. 2, I th and η slope can be extracted for each device (Fig. 3). In the chip bar measured, I th of the devices ranges from 7.8 to 8.6 mA. The correlation of I th with η front and η rear is obvious from Fig. 3. As I th increases, η front increases and η rear decreases. The relation makes the front facet I-L curves look nearly identical around 25mA in Fig. 2 where cross point is formed between the curves. The opposite tendency of η front and η rear results in steep increase of SER with I th. In this chip bar, SER ranges from 1.44 to 1.89. Due to the opposite behavior of η front and η rear, the total slope efficiency, η front+η rear, seems to be independent of I th, remaining almost unchanged around 0.485 W/A.

Fig. 3. η front, η rear, η front+η rear, and SER as functions of I th. As I th increases, η front also increases while η rear decreases. This tendency makes SER increases steeply with I th. The opposite behavior of η front and η rear makes η front+η rear nearly unchanged.

η slope is proportional to the photon density at the facet, assuming the difference in effective index is negligible. Therefore the reason for the difference in η slope is different photon density between the two facets. Figure 4 explains why the difference occurs. Among the right-traveling photons with density 1, R is reflected toward the taper at the front facet whose reflectivity is R. All the photons reflected are not coupled to the active waveguide and some of them are lost as radiation. Letting the fraction of the photons recoupled to the active mode be α(<1), the effective reflectivity of the front facet is that is less than R. The existence of the unidirectional loss can, therefore, be interpreted as a low reflectivity coating, resulting in higher η slope of the front facet because photon distribution is concentrated on the vicinity of lower reflectivity facet [8

8. W.-C. W. Fang, C. G. Bethea, Y. K. Chen, and S. L. Chuang, “Longitudinal spatial inhomogeneities in high-power semiconductor lasers,” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 1, 117–127 (1995). [CrossRef]

].

Figure 5 is SER of several chip bars versus I th. Horizontal and vertical error bar indicate the standard deviation of I th and SER, respectively. Devices of each chip bar showed clear tendency similar to Fig. 3. Mean values of the chip bars also show proportionality between I th and SER. Mean SER of SSC-LD chip bars was between 1.2 and 2.0 while I th varies from 7.1 to 10.2 mA, which is much larger than the range of SER in a single chip bar. This shows the large spatial variation of the fabrication process of SSC-LD. η front has mean value between 0.26 and 0.33 W/A that can result in extinction ratio difference exceeding 1dB in direct modulation LD. LD with perfectly adiabatic SSC would have SER=1 and I th=6.6 mA from linear regression analysis plotted in blue line in Fig. 5, coinciding closely with the measured data of non-SSC LD. However, the coincidence is somewhat accidental because their gain medium property - length, average confinement factor, existence of taper shape, etc. - is different in spite of the same total cavity length.

Fig. 4. (a) Schematic plan view figure of SSC-LD. Assuming facet reflectivity R, the fraction of reflected photons among the right-traveling photons is R. As photons propagate further along the SSC region, part of them are lost as radiation and finally is coupled to active waveguide mode where α(<1) is the fraction of photons recoupled. (b) Equivalent non-SSC LD is with front facet of reflectivity .
Fig. 5. I th of chip bars versus SER. Each symbol indicates the mean value, and the horizontal and vertical error-bars indicate the standard deviation of SER and I th within a chip bar, respectively. This shows that the trend within a single chip bar (Fig. 3) is also applied between the chip bars. SER=1 means equal output efficiency at both the facets that can be observed from LD without SSC.

Fig. 6. Horizontal far-field angle of SSC-LD’s versus η front. As η front increases, far-field angle also increases. Small far-field angle originates from large near-field mode that causes large unidirectional loss.

4. Conclusion

SSC integrated BH LD’s were fabricated by wet-etching SSC and their I-L characteristics were discussed. The variation in SSC produced during etching process made I th and η slope vary widely compared to non-SSC LD. It was found that η front increases while η rear decreases with I th. SER increases from 1.2 to 2.0 over the wafer while I th increases from 7.1 to 10.2 mA. Horizontal far-field angle is also correlated with η slope so that SSC-LD with higher η front has narrower divergence angle. These relations can be explained by unidirectional loss that occurs when photon travels from the front to rear facet.

References and links

1.

Y.-H. Kwon, J.-S. Choe, J. Kim, K. Kim, K.-S. Choi, B.-S. Choi, and H. Yun, “Fabrication of 40 Gb/s front-end optical receivers using spot-size converter integrated waveguide photodiodes,” ETRI Journal 27, 484–490 (2005). [CrossRef]

2.

H. Oohashi, M. Fukuda, Y. Kondo, M. Wada, Y. Tohmori, Y. Sakai, H. Toda, and Y. Itaya, “Reliability of 1300-nm spot-size converter integrated laser diodes for low-cost optical modules in access networks,” J. Lightwave Technol. 16, 1302–1307 (1998). [CrossRef]

3.

Y. Itaya, Y. Tohmori, and H. Toba, “Spot-size converter integrated laser diodes (SS-LDs),” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 3, 968–974 (1997). [CrossRef]

4.

H. S. Cho, K. H. Park, J. K. Lee, D. H. Jang, J. S. Kim, K. S. Park, C. S. Park, and K. E. Pyun, “Unbalanced facet output power and large spot size in 1.3 µm tapered active stripe lasers,” Electron. Lett. 33, 781–782 (1997). [CrossRef]

5.

S.-W. Ryu, S.-B. Kim, J.-S. Sim, and J. Kim, “1.55-µm spot-size converter integrated laser diode with conventional buried-heterostructure laser process,” IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 15, 12–14 (2003). [CrossRef]

6.

A. Lestra and J.-Y. Emery, “Monolithic integration of spot-size converters with 1.3-µm lasers and 1.55-mm polarization insensitive semiconductor optical amplifiers,” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 3, 1429–1440 (1997). [CrossRef]

7.

B. T. Lee, R. A. Logan, R. F. Kalicek, Jr., A. M. Sergent, D. L. Coblentz, K. W. Wecht, and T. Tanbun-Ek, “Fabrication of InGaAsP/InP buried heterostructure laser using reactive ion etching and metalorganic chemical vapor deposition,” IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 5, 279–281 (1993). [CrossRef]

8.

W.-C. W. Fang, C. G. Bethea, Y. K. Chen, and S. L. Chuang, “Longitudinal spatial inhomogeneities in high-power semiconductor lasers,” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 1, 117–127 (1995). [CrossRef]

9.

G. P. Agrawal and N. K. Dutta, Semiconductor Lasers, 2nd ed. (Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1993).

OCIS Codes
(250.5960) Optoelectronics : Semiconductor lasers
(250.5590) Optoelectronics : Quantum-well, -wire and -dot devices

ToC Category:
Optoelectronics

History
Original Manuscript: February 14, 2008
Revised Manuscript: April 3, 2008
Manuscript Accepted: April 5, 2008
Published: April 10, 2008

Citation
Joong-Seon Choe, Yong-Hwan Kwon, Sung-Bock Kim, and Jung Jin Ju, "Nonuniform output characteristics of laser diode with wet-etched spot-size converter," Opt. Express 16, 5790-5796 (2008)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-16-8-5790


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References

  1. Y.-H. Kwon, J.-S. Choe, J. Kim, K. Kim, K.-S. Choi, B.-S. Choi, and H. Yun, "Fabrication of 40 Gb/s front-end optical receivers using spot-size converter integrated waveguide photodiodes," ETRI J. 27, 484-490 (2005). [CrossRef]
  2. H. Oohashi, M. Fukuda, Y. Kondo, M. Wada, Y. Tohmori, Y. Sakai, H. Toda, and Y. Itaya, "Reliability of 1300-nm spot-size converter integrated laser diodes for low-cost optical modules in access networks," J. Lightwave Technol. 16, 1302-1307 (1998). [CrossRef]
  3. Y. Itaya, Y. Tohmori, and H. Toba, "Spot-size converter integrated laser diodes (SS-LDs)," IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 3, 968-974 (1997). [CrossRef]
  4. H. S. Cho, K. H. Park, J. K. Lee, D. H. Jang, J. S. Kim, K. S. Park, C. S. Park, and K. E. Pyun, "Unbalanced facet output power and large spot size in 1.3 μm tapered active stripe lasers," Electron. Lett. 33, 781-782 (1997). [CrossRef]
  5. S.-W. Ryu, S.-B. Kim, J.-S. Sim, and J. Kim, "1.55-μm spot-size converter integrated laser diode with conventional buried-heterostructure laser process," IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 15, 12-14 (2003). [CrossRef]
  6. A. Lestra and J.-Y. Emery, "Monolithic integration of spot-size converters with 1.3-μm lasers and 1.55-μm polarization insensitive semiconductor optical amplifiers," IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 3, 1429-1440 (1997). [CrossRef]
  7. B. T. Lee, R. A. Logan, R. F. Kalicek, Jr., A. M. Sergent, D. L. Coblentz, K. W. Wecht, and T. Tanbun-Ek, "Fabrication of InGaAsP/InP buried heterostructure laser using reactive ion etching and metalorganic chemical vapor deposition," IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 5, 279-281 (1993). [CrossRef]
  8. W.-C.W. Fang, C. G. Bethea, Y. K. Chen, and S. L. Chuang, "Longitudinal spatial inhomogeneities in high-power semiconductor lasers," IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 1, 117-127 (1995). [CrossRef]
  9. G. P. Agrawal and N. K. Dutta, Semiconductor Lasers, 2nd ed. (Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1993).

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