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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: C. Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 18, Iss. 14 — Jul. 5, 2010
  • pp: 14627–14636
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Multiwatt—power highly—coherent compact single—frequency tunable Vertical—External—Cavity—Surface—Emitting—Semiconductor—Laser

A. Laurain, M. Myara, G. Beaudoin, I. Sagnes, and A. Garnache  »View Author Affiliations


Optics Express, Vol. 18, Issue 14, pp. 14627-14636 (2010)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OE.18.014627


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Abstract

We demonstrate high power (2.1 W) low noise single frequency operation of a tunable compact verical–external–cavity surface–emitting–laser exhibiting a high beam quality. We took advantage of thermal lens–based stability to develop a short (3 – 10 mm) plano–plano external cavity without any intracavity filter. The semiconductor structure emitting at 1µm is optically pumped by a 8W commercial 808 nm multimode diode laser at large incidence angle. For heat management purpose the GaAs-based VECSEL membrane was bonded on a SiC substrate. We measured a low divergence quasi-circular TEM00 beam (M2 = 1.2) close to diffraction limit, with a linear light polarization (> 30 dB).We simulated the steady state laser beam of this unstable cavity using Fresnel diffraction. The side mode suppression ratio is > 45 dB. The free running laser linewidth is 37 kHz limited by pump induced thermal fluctuations. Thanks to this high-Q external cavity approach, the frequency noise is low and the dynamics is in the relaxation-oscillation-free regime, exhibiting low intensity noise (< 0.1%), with a cutoff frequency ~ 41MHz above which the shot noise level is reached. The key parameters limiting the laser power and coherence are studied. This design/properties can be extended to other wavelengths.

© 2010 Optical Society of America

1. Introduction

Nowadays laser technology is maturing rapidly and is finding applications in areas such as high resolution spectroscopy, medicine, optical telecoms, radar-lidar, metrology… where highly coherent tunable high power light sources emitting in the visible to mid-IR range are required in the continuous-wave (cw) regime at room temperature (RT). A highly coherent tunable laser design can be achieved using an extended-cavity quantum-well (QW) semiconductor surface emitting laser in a stable optical cavity, so called Vertical–External–Cavity–Surface–Emitting–Semiconductor–Lasers (VECSELs). In addition to compactness and low power consumption, semiconductor lasers have the advantage to cover a wide emission wavelength range at RT exploiting III-V semiconductor technologies. Diode-pumped VECSELs combine the approach of diode-pumped solid-state lasers and engineered semiconductor lasers, generating both low divergence circular diffraction limited output beams (TEM00) and multiwatt powers in cw at RT [1

1. M. Kuznetsov, F. Hakimi, R. Sprague, and A. Mooradian, “Design and characteristics of high-power (> 0.5-W CW) diode-pumped vertical-external-cavity surface-emitting semiconductor lasers with circular TEM00 beams,” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 5, 561–573 (1999). [CrossRef]

, 2

2. S. Lutgen, T. Albrecht, P. Brick, W. Reill, J. Luft, and W. Spath, “8-W High-Efficiency Continuous-Wave Semiconductor Disk Laser at 1000 nm,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 82, 3620–3622 (2003). [CrossRef]

]. Indeed this high-Q vertical cavity design boosts the light coherence, generating continuously-tunable sub-MHz linewidth single-frequency laser with a linear polarization state, without any intracavity filter, as reported in [3

3. A. Garnache, A. Ouvrard, L. Cerutti, D. Barat, A. Vicet, F. Genty, Y. Rouillard, D. Romanini, and E. Cerda-Méndez, “2-2.7µm single frequency tunable Sb—based lasers operating in CW at RT: Microcavity and Externalcavity VCSELs, DFB,” in Proc. SPIE, vol. 6184, p. 61840N (2006).

, 4

4. A. Garnache, A. Ouvrard, and D. Romanini, “Single—Frequency operation of External—Cavity VCSELs: Nonlinear multimode temporal dynamics and quantum limit.” Opt. Express 15(15), 9403–9417 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

] at power levels ≤ 20mW. These features are intrinsic to the use of a high-Q air-gap relatively ”long” stable cavity with a ideal homogeneous gain behavior - as with QW’s -, where amplified spontaneous emission and non-linear mode interactions are negligible [4

4. A. Garnache, A. Ouvrard, and D. Romanini, “Single—Frequency operation of External—Cavity VCSELs: Nonlinear multimode temporal dynamics and quantum limit.” Opt. Express 15(15), 9403–9417 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

].

In this work, we took advantage of a laser technology using a process based on lowtemperature thin film thermal AuIn2 bonding onto SiC to improve the heat dissipation [6

6. M. Jacquemet, M. Domenech, G. Lucas-Leclin, P. Georges, J. Dion, M. Strassner, I. Sagnes, and A. Garnache, “Single-Frequency High-Power CW Vertical External Cavity Surface Emitting Semiconductor Laser at 1003 nm and 501nm by Intracavity Frequency Doubling,” Appl. Phys. B 86(3), 503–510 (2006). [CrossRef]

]. Other works reported on high power single frequency VECSEL operation at RT using diamond or SiC heat spreader and intracavity filters [6

6. M. Jacquemet, M. Domenech, G. Lucas-Leclin, P. Georges, J. Dion, M. Strassner, I. Sagnes, and A. Garnache, “Single-Frequency High-Power CW Vertical External Cavity Surface Emitting Semiconductor Laser at 1003 nm and 501nm by Intracavity Frequency Doubling,” Appl. Phys. B 86(3), 503–510 (2006). [CrossRef]

, 8

8. R. H. Abram, K. S. Gardner, E. Riis, and A. I. Ferguson, “Narrow linewidth operation of a tunable optically pumped semiconductor laser,” Opt. Express 12(22), 5434–5439 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 9

9. H. Lindberg, A. Larsson, and M. Strassner, “Single-frequency operation of a high-power, long-wavelength semiconductor disk laser,” Opt. Lett. 30(17), 2260–2262 (2005).

], up to 0.5W [6

6. M. Jacquemet, M. Domenech, G. Lucas-Leclin, P. Georges, J. Dion, M. Strassner, I. Sagnes, and A. Garnache, “Single-Frequency High-Power CW Vertical External Cavity Surface Emitting Semiconductor Laser at 1003 nm and 501nm by Intracavity Frequency Doubling,” Appl. Phys. B 86(3), 503–510 (2006). [CrossRef]

] at 283 K, but in bulky and relatively complex laser systems with low efficiency < 8%, no continuous tunability, and a broad free running linewidth > 100 MHz.

In this paper, we demonstrate that this compact short-cavity QW VECSEL design principle can be extended to multiwatt operation with square pump profile provided by high power multimode fibre-coupled diode laser at large incidence angle. We demonstrate high efficiency watt level single frequency operation of a low noise VECSEL at RT in cw. Exploiting membrane technology bonded on SiC for thermal management, we get the highest power ever published to our knowledge [6

6. M. Jacquemet, M. Domenech, G. Lucas-Leclin, P. Georges, J. Dion, M. Strassner, I. Sagnes, and A. Garnache, “Single-Frequency High-Power CW Vertical External Cavity Surface Emitting Semiconductor Laser at 1003 nm and 501nm by Intracavity Frequency Doubling,” Appl. Phys. B 86(3), 503–510 (2006). [CrossRef]

, 8

8. R. H. Abram, K. S. Gardner, E. Riis, and A. I. Ferguson, “Narrow linewidth operation of a tunable optically pumped semiconductor laser,” Opt. Express 12(22), 5434–5439 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 9

9. H. Lindberg, A. Larsson, and M. Strassner, “Single-frequency operation of a high-power, long-wavelength semiconductor disk laser,” Opt. Lett. 30(17), 2260–2262 (2005).

]. We show theoretically why high quality elliptical beam can oscillate in this single transverse mode plano-plano optical resonator. The far field phase map and beam quality factor (M2), the side-mode-suppression-ratio (SMSR), the polarization state, the relative intensity noise (RIN) and the frequency noise are studied. The design principles can be extended to any wavelength.

Fig. 1. (a) VECSEL gain structure design and technology. (b) Reflectivity and photoluminescence of the GaAs-based VECSEL gain structure bonded on SiC emitting at 1µm.

2. High power VECSEL device design and technology

2.1. VECSEL gain structure design and technology

The GaAs-based VECSEL gain structure emitting at λ = 1 µm designed for ~800 nm pumping (Fig. 1), was grown by MOCVD in a D180-Veeco TurboDisc reactor using TMGa, TMAl, TMIn, and AsH3 at 60 mTorr and at a temperature of 700° C. It is composed of an epitaxial high-reflectivity (99.9%) bottom AlAs/GaAs Bragg mirror (27.5 pairs) and an active layer on top, designed with 6 strained balanced InGaAs/GaAsP QWs in a 13λ/2 GaAs long active region, avoiding crystal darklines (fast traps). A low excitation carrier lifetime τe > 10 ns was measured, ensuring complete bleaching of residual absorption in weakly-pumped laser areas. Under high injection at threshold, it goes down to τe ≃ 2−3ns due to radiative recombinaisons, as calculated [11

11. L. A. Coldren and S. W. Corzine, Diode lasers and Photonic Integrated Circuits (Wiley, New York, 1995).

]. The QW’s are distributed among the optical standing-wave antinodes with a distribution function 111010100100 (from top surface to bragg mirror) such as the excited carrier density is almost equal in the QW’s, to ensure a low laser threshold and a homogeneous gain [4

4. A. Garnache, A. Ouvrard, and D. Romanini, “Single—Frequency operation of External—Cavity VCSELs: Nonlinear multimode temporal dynamics and quantum limit.” Opt. Express 15(15), 9403–9417 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. The QW number is optimized for low threshold with 1−2% cavity losses. A 30 nm AlAs confinement layer and a 8 nm GaAs caping layer are added on top. The structure was grown in reverse order on a (100) GaAs substrate. An AlGaAs etch-stop layer was introduced between the substrate and the active region. A λ/2 thick GaAs phase matching layer was added on top of the bragg mirror to finish the growth and later enhanced the reflectivity (metal mirror).

The technological process is finished by evaporating a λ/4 thick Si3N4 antireflection coating on the bonded VECSEL membrane, using PECVD at high temperature (300°C), to suppress microcavity effect and pump reflection. Thus 88% of the incident pump power Pp is absorbed in the active region thick GaAs barriers. Figure 1(b) shows the reflectivity and low excitation photoluminescence spectra of the SiC bonded structure, showing an optimized design with a good matching between the bragg mirror centre wavelength and the QW gain wavelength for 300K operation.

Fig. 2. (a) High power single frequency tunable VECSEL design, (b) Thermal lens-based cavity stability: experimental and calculated Gaussian waist w 0 (@1/e 2) on the VECSEL gain mirror varying with L; in inset : experimental pump profile and temperature induced index profile (FEMLAB simulation) in the VECSEL structure (8 W pump power).

2.2. VECSEL device: short plano-plano cavity principle pumping at large angle

The VECSEL device is formed by the VECSEL gain mirror, a millimeter air gap L = 3 – 10mm (round trip time τRT = 2L/c ≃ 67 ps for L = 10mm), and a commercial flat mirror with a reflectivity of 1-Toc ≃ 99% [Fig. 2(a)]. The chip is soldered on a Peltier element to stabilize the chip temperature with a precision of 10−3 K. The external mirror is held by an ultrastable mirror mount (New Focus 9882), mounted on a small Piezoelectric Transducer (PZT) to tune the cavity length, thus the laser frequency. The VECSEL gain structure is optically–pumped in cw by a commercial fibre–coupled high power multimode GaAs laser diode (Unique Mode, Pp = 8W at 808 nm, 200µm core diameter). The pump beam was focused on a spot size of 2wp = 232µm diameter (FWHM; top-hat like shape [Fig. 2(b)] with two commercial achromat lenses at a incidence angle of ~ 45°, leading to a strongly elliptical beam shape. The components are glued on a home made breadboard and inserted in a metallic box for thermal and acoustic noise isolation (excepted the pump diode chip).

To reach high power, the high conductivity host substrate provides efficient and relatively uniform heat removal from the VECSEL chip. We measured a device thermal resistance of Rth = 4.5±0.5K/Winc relative to the incident pump power for this pump area, in rather good agreement with the 2D symmetric simulation (FEMLAB) [Fig. 2(b)]. The fraction of heat power generated is ≃ 0.35 here. Rth was determined under laser operation by measuring both the laser wavelength shift with incident power (ΔλPinc) and the wavelength shift with temperature (ΔλT = 0.35nm/K).

To be in a single frequency light state, the laser has to operate on a single transverse and longitudinal mode, and light polarization state (linear along [110] here) [3

3. A. Garnache, A. Ouvrard, L. Cerutti, D. Barat, A. Vicet, F. Genty, Y. Rouillard, D. Romanini, and E. Cerda-Méndez, “2-2.7µm single frequency tunable Sb—based lasers operating in CW at RT: Microcavity and Externalcavity VCSELs, DFB,” in Proc. SPIE, vol. 6184, p. 61840N (2006).

]. First, in order to stabilize only the fundamental transverse mode in this short free space unstable plano-plano cavity, we took advantage of pump induced positive thermal lens in the VECSEL chip [5

5. A. Laurain, M. Myara, G. Beaudoin, I. Sagnes, and A. Garnache, “High power single—frequency continuously—tunable compact extended—cavity semiconductor laser,” Opt. Express 17(12), 9503–9508 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

], without here the need of a concave mirror and even using an elliptical low quality pump beam shape (Fig. 2, see section 3). Thus, for homogeneous thermal bonding, the laser beam shape would follow the pump beam symmetry. To stabilize only one longitudinal mode in the gain bandwidth, we took advantage of the ideal homogeneous gain behavior of QW VECSEL [4

4. A. Garnache, A. Ouvrard, and D. Romanini, “Single—Frequency operation of External—Cavity VCSELs: Nonlinear multimode temporal dynamics and quantum limit.” Opt. Express 15(15), 9403–9417 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

], where non-linear mode interactions are weak. Then we chose a short cavity length L < 10 mm, without the need of any intracavity filter, to prevent from multimode operation, or mode hopping, due to technical perturbations, specially while using a multimode noisy pump [4–6

4. A. Garnache, A. Ouvrard, and D. Romanini, “Single—Frequency operation of External—Cavity VCSELs: Nonlinear multimode temporal dynamics and quantum limit.” Opt. Express 15(15), 9403–9417 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. We chose a cavity length short enough so that the characteristic time (≪1 ms here) to stabilize a single longitudinal mode [4

4. A. Garnache, A. Ouvrard, and D. Romanini, “Single—Frequency operation of External—Cavity VCSELs: Nonlinear multimode temporal dynamics and quantum limit.” Opt. Express 15(15), 9403–9417 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

] is shorter than the characteristic time of strong technical fluctuations (mechanical, thermal...), already potentially large in the kHz frequency range (see Fig. 6).

This high-Q external-cavity VCSEL design leads to low noise laser emission. This short cavity design allows a broad continuous frequency tuning [5

5. A. Laurain, M. Myara, G. Beaudoin, I. Sagnes, and A. Garnache, “High power single—frequency continuously—tunable compact extended—cavity semiconductor laser,” Opt. Express 17(12), 9503–9508 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. These QW VECSEL design principles are valid at any wavelength by using suitable semiconductor materials.

Fig. 3. (a) Simulated far field phase map and horizontal intensity profile (dotted line) after 100 round trips for L = 7.5 mm; (b) Far field phase map at high power recorded with a wavefront sensor (field curvature zernike term removed); intensity profile (dotted line) at high power (2.1 W) recorded with a beam profiler (solid line : Gaussian fit).

3. Single transverse mode stability and spatial coherence at high power: Fresnel simulation and experiment

We observed TEM00 operation over a wide range of cavity lengths and pumping values. In the experiment, depending on the spot position on the chip, we observed either a quasi-circular laser beam shape, or a slightly elliptical one in both directions. Thus the thermal contact is not uniform over the pump beam and the index profile does not necessary follow the elliptical pump shape symmetry. Figure 2(b) shows the measured and calculated cavity stability diagrams for a Gaussian TEM00 beam of waist w 0 at the diffraction limit, assuming a plano-concave stable cavity here [12

12. A. E. Siegman, Lasers (University Science Books, Mill Valley (California), 1986).

]. It shows that even using a unstable plano-plano cavity and a top-hat like shape poor quality elliptical pump beam, the laser is stabilizing a single fundamental mode in a plano-concave like cavity. Taking an average index change in the VECSEL gain mirror of dn/dT ≃ 2.7×10−4/K as measured in our structure, we simulated (FEMLAB) the induced temperature/index change radial profile for a circular top-hat like shape pump beam [Fig. 2(b)].

In this plano-plano cavity disturbed by a non ideal thermal lens, the optical cavity is unstable. Indeed, the index profile induced is not a parabolic shape, due to the launched top-hat-like pump shape. However, we simulated in the Fresnel diffraction approximation that after less than N=100 round trips, thus typically the photon lifetime τpτRT /Toc ~ 100 × τRT (the characteristic time to reach the laser steady state [4

4. A. Garnache, A. Ouvrard, and D. Romanini, “Single—Frequency operation of External—Cavity VCSELs: Nonlinear multimode temporal dynamics and quantum limit.” Opt. Express 15(15), 9403–9417 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 12

12. A. E. Siegman, Lasers (University Science Books, Mill Valley (California), 1986).

]), the laser cavity is stabilizing a quasi-Gaussian transverse TEM00 mode. We calculated that our thermal lens-based cavity behaves like a single transverse mode optical resonators [13

13. M. Kuznetsov, M. Stern, and J. Coppeta, “Single transverse mode optical resonators,” Opt. Express 13, 171–181 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

], where higer transverse modes can not oscillate.

For the simulation, we used the electric field transmission function tV after one reflection in the VECSEL gain mirror, taking into account the simulated temperature induced index profile, as

tV(r)=exp[ik0Δn(r)2Lμc],
(1)

Em+1(x,y)=eik02Liλ2LEm(x,y)tV(x,y)exp[ik04L[(xx)2+(yy)2]]dxdy.
(2)

We thus injected the incident field on the VECSEL gain mirror Em obtained after m round trip as the new entry. We numerically solved the 2D Fresnel Integral [Eq. (2)] thanks to a Fourier transform based method [14

14. R. P. Muffoletto, “Numerical Techniques for Fresnel Diffraction in Computational Holography,” Ph.D. thesis, Graduate Faculty of the Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College (2006).

]. We used a (201×201) point matrix with a spatial resolution of 6.8 µm. The numerical simulation is ended by calculating the laser far field in the Fraunhofer approximation (Fourier transform of the near field). We obtained a similar theoretical far field intensity profile and phase distribution as in the experiment at high power.

The far field phase map at high power was recorded with a wavefront sensor based on lateral shearing interferometry technology (SID4-PHASICS). The intensity profile was also recorded with a beam profiler for more resolution. For this result, a quasi-circular far-field divergence angle of 0.14° (FWHM) was measured with a second moment leading to M2 ≅ = 1.2 (Fig. 3) at high power. The second moment measurement and far field phase map shows that the beam is close to diffraction limit with a quasi-Gaussian shape, in spite of a poor quality elliptical multimode pump diode beam, in good agreement with the simulation.

4. Free running single frequency operation

4.1. Single Longitudinal Mode at high Output Power

Single frequency TEM00 operation is observed at ~ 1.02µm and for cavity length ranging from L = 3 to 10 mm. The maximum output power measured is Pout = 2.1W at RT in cw [Fig. 4(a)] for Pp = 8W and L ≃ 5 mm, limited by the available pump power. The apparent high threshold and non-linear slope efficiency is due to bad pump to laser overlapping without thermal lens, leading to a > 100% actual efficiency as the laser waist reduces. Note that QW absorption is negligible and quickly bleached here, as laser waist is not much bigger than pump waist above threshold (~ 20 × transparency density at peak intensity) and laser intensity rapidly stronger than the absorption saturation intensity respectively. The SMSR is > 45dB (apparatus limited) at maximum power [Fig. 4(b)], while the calculated quantum limit gives 60 dB here [4

4. A. Garnache, A. Ouvrard, and D. Romanini, “Single—Frequency operation of External—Cavity VCSELs: Nonlinear multimode temporal dynamics and quantum limit.” Opt. Express 15(15), 9403–9417 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. The light polarization is linear along the [110] crystal axis thanks to gain dichroïsm in QWs [3

3. A. Garnache, A. Ouvrard, L. Cerutti, D. Barat, A. Vicet, F. Genty, Y. Rouillard, D. Romanini, and E. Cerda-Méndez, “2-2.7µm single frequency tunable Sb—based lasers operating in CW at RT: Microcavity and Externalcavity VCSELs, DFB,” in Proc. SPIE, vol. 6184, p. 61840N (2006).

, 4

4. A. Garnache, A. Ouvrard, and D. Romanini, “Single—Frequency operation of External—Cavity VCSELs: Nonlinear multimode temporal dynamics and quantum limit.” Opt. Express 15(15), 9403–9417 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. The orthogonal polarization extinction ratio is > 30 dB. We recorded a mode hope free tunability of ≃ 30 GHz (or 0.1 nm) for L=5mm, varying L with the PZT voltage. The measured laser (gain) tuning rate with temperature is ~ 120 GHz/K.

4.2. Intensity and frequency noise in free running operation

This high-Q VECSEL design leads to low RIN and frequency noise operation despite the use of multimode high power pump diode. The pump and the free running single frequency VECSEL were studied in terms of RIN spectrum (Fig. 5). We use a 50Ω adapted photodiode at a photocurrent level well above the equivalent thermal noise of the detection device (~ 2 mA). Below typically f=5 kHz, the VECSEL and pump RIN’s are influenced by a set contributions (mechanical, thermal and electronic) which can evolve over two consecutive measurements. Above f=5 kHz, the VECSEL RIN is pump limited up to the VECSEL cutoff frequency [fcL ~ 41MHz for L=7.5mm from Eq. (4)] where the fluctuation power spectral density reaches the shot noise level. The VECSEL RIN quantum limit RINQ for f < fcL is far below here, as calculated [15

15. K. Petermann, Laser diode modulation and noise, ADOP (Kluwer Academic, Tokyo, 1988). [CrossRef]

]

Fig. 4. (a) Single frequency VECSEL output power in cw at RT. (b) Laser spectrum at high power recorded with a high resolution confocal Fabry Perot (32MHz FWHM); in inset: spectrum recorded with an optical spectrum analyzer (15 GHz resolution).
RINQ2hcβspπλPout×(ηη1)2186dBHz,
(3)

where η ≫ 1 is the pump rate above threshold relative to QW transparency, and βsp ≃ 1.1 the spontaneous emission factor.

The dynamics is thus in the relaxation-oscillation-free regime, as the photon lifetime τp > τe the carrier lifetime, with a laser cutoff frequency fcL below 100 MHz. The laser is in a class-A regime and tends to a class-B regime if the cavity length is decreased [4

4. A. Garnache, A. Ouvrard, and D. Romanini, “Single—Frequency operation of External—Cavity VCSELs: Nonlinear multimode temporal dynamics and quantum limit.” Opt. Express 15(15), 9403–9417 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 12

12. A. E. Siegman, Lasers (University Science Books, Mill Valley (California), 1986).

]. The theoretical pump to VECSEL RIN transfer function (Fig. 5) is given by [15

15. K. Petermann, Laser diode modulation and noise, ADOP (Kluwer Academic, Tokyo, 1988). [CrossRef]

]:

T(f)η(η1)τeτpω2+jητpω2
(4)

where ω = 2πf. The relative rms fluctuation in the 10 Hz – 300MHz frequency range is < 0.1% at 0.8W output power. Between laser cutoff frequency fcL and the cavity Free-Spectral-Range value (f=40MHz- 20 GHz), the laser intensity noise is at the shot-noise fundamental limit, leading to an ultra low noise source in this frequency range.

The VECSEL frequency noise was also measured using a home-made stable plano-concave Fabry-Perot interferometer (2 cm long, 350 finesse, fcFP = 21MHz cutoff frequency) as frequency discriminator [Fig. 6(a)]. The Fabry-Perot components are glued on a home made breadboard and inserted in a metallic box for thermal and acoustic noise isolation. The operating point is set at 60% of Fabry-Perot transmission maximum leading to a conversion slope of 5.3 %/MHz [inset of Fig. 6(a)]. The photodiode current was recorded with an optimizedsoftware driven acquisition card, leading to weak dead times (~20 %). This allows to perform noise spectra averaging while the laser stays near the choosen operating point of the Fabry-Perot interferometer, in spite of a quite large frequency-conversion slope and quite low start fequency (20 Hz).

Below 1 kHz, the frequency noise is limited by thermal and mechanical contributions (characteristic peaks around 200 Hz) and 1/f technical noise. The frequency noise spectral density is measured up to the cutoff frequency fcFP of Fabry-Perot interferometer (lower than fcL), where the frequency noise comes close to the fundamental quantum white noise limit (~ 0.1 Hz2/Hz up to 200MHz as calculated in our case) [4

4. A. Garnache, A. Ouvrard, and D. Romanini, “Single—Frequency operation of External—Cavity VCSELs: Nonlinear multimode temporal dynamics and quantum limit.” Opt. Express 15(15), 9403–9417 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 15

15. K. Petermann, Laser diode modulation and noise, ADOP (Kluwer Academic, Tokyo, 1988). [CrossRef]

]. However it is experimentally limited here by the VECSEL RIN level above 2 MHz. Above fcFP, the signal reaches the background level, with preeminent shot noise contribution.

Fig. 5. Pump RINp, VECSEL RIN at Pout = 800mW and theoretical RIN transfer function spectra.
Fig. 6. (a) Frequency noise spectral density at 800mW output power (Lc=7.5 mm) : experiment (solid line) and theory without mechanical noise (dash line); in inset Fabry Perot transmission spectrum. (b) Laser power spectral density deduced from experiment showing a 37 kHz linewidth (FWHM) over 1 ms.

FNtherm(f)RINP(f)×Γ(f)2×Pp2Rth2,
(5)

This macroscopic model is valid for f ≪ 10MHz. We simulated the pump to optical frequency noise spectral density transfer function (using FEMLAB; close to a 2nd order short pass filter with a ~4 kHz cutoff frequency), which we multiplied by the pump RIN (smoothed here). The theoretical spectrum shows relative good agreement with the experimental one [Fig. 6(a)].

From the experiment, we obtain a rms laser frequency noise of 32 kHz (over 1 ms) for L ≃ 7.5mm without any active frequency stabilization. Finally, the linewidth given in Fig. 6(b) was performed from integral computation of the frequency noise spectral density [15

15. K. Petermann, Laser diode modulation and noise, ADOP (Kluwer Academic, Tokyo, 1988). [CrossRef]

]. This leads to a Gaussian–like shape and a linewidth of ΔνL ≃ 37 kHz (FWHM) over 1 ms, with a slight enlargement of wings due to relatively strong noise peaks in the frequency noise spectrum around f=100 kHz. This linewidth value is similar to what would be measured using a standard heterodyne technique.

5. Conclusion

We demonstrated a compact highly coherent and efficient high power QW semiconductor laser at the multiwatt level (2.1W, pump limited). The single frequency laser exhibits low intensity and frequency noise (sub-40 kHz linewidth) and is continuously tunable. It is based on a short plano-plano cavity VECSEL, where a VECSEL membrane is bonded on SiC for thermal management. Better bonding/thermal uniformity could be achieved with an alternative method based on Au electroplating to create a ~ 100µm thick gold substrate [7

7. A. Laurain, A. Garnache, A. Michon, G. Beaudoin, E. Cambril, and I. Sagnes, “Design and characteristics of single-frequency TEM00 Electrically-Pumped external-cavity VCSEL,” submitted in Opt. Express (2010).

]. Work is in progress in this direction. We obtained diffraction limit quasi-Gaussian beam even pumping with a low beam quality (elliptical top-hat like shape) multimode diode laser. We showed that our thermal lens-based cavity behaves like a single transverse mode optical resonators.We showed that pump properties define the cavity design and laser coherence. The laser RIN and linewidth can be further reduced using noiseless excitation, like low noise pump or electrical pumping.

This design principle and the laser properties obtained can be extended to any wavelength by using suitable semiconductor materials, and is scalable to higher output powers using larger active diameters [5

5. A. Laurain, M. Myara, G. Beaudoin, I. Sagnes, and A. Garnache, “High power single—frequency continuously—tunable compact extended—cavity semiconductor laser,” Opt. Express 17(12), 9503–9508 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. This low noise compact device shows higher quality than standard commercial laser diodes or solid-state lasers.

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the French MIREV and 2POLEVF ANR programs, the French GLACE DGA PREI program, and the GONG European Space Agency program.

References and links

1.

M. Kuznetsov, F. Hakimi, R. Sprague, and A. Mooradian, “Design and characteristics of high-power (> 0.5-W CW) diode-pumped vertical-external-cavity surface-emitting semiconductor lasers with circular TEM00 beams,” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 5, 561–573 (1999). [CrossRef]

2.

S. Lutgen, T. Albrecht, P. Brick, W. Reill, J. Luft, and W. Spath, “8-W High-Efficiency Continuous-Wave Semiconductor Disk Laser at 1000 nm,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 82, 3620–3622 (2003). [CrossRef]

3.

A. Garnache, A. Ouvrard, L. Cerutti, D. Barat, A. Vicet, F. Genty, Y. Rouillard, D. Romanini, and E. Cerda-Méndez, “2-2.7µm single frequency tunable Sb—based lasers operating in CW at RT: Microcavity and Externalcavity VCSELs, DFB,” in Proc. SPIE, vol. 6184, p. 61840N (2006).

4.

A. Garnache, A. Ouvrard, and D. Romanini, “Single—Frequency operation of External—Cavity VCSELs: Nonlinear multimode temporal dynamics and quantum limit.” Opt. Express 15(15), 9403–9417 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

5.

A. Laurain, M. Myara, G. Beaudoin, I. Sagnes, and A. Garnache, “High power single—frequency continuously—tunable compact extended—cavity semiconductor laser,” Opt. Express 17(12), 9503–9508 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

6.

M. Jacquemet, M. Domenech, G. Lucas-Leclin, P. Georges, J. Dion, M. Strassner, I. Sagnes, and A. Garnache, “Single-Frequency High-Power CW Vertical External Cavity Surface Emitting Semiconductor Laser at 1003 nm and 501nm by Intracavity Frequency Doubling,” Appl. Phys. B 86(3), 503–510 (2006). [CrossRef]

7.

A. Laurain, A. Garnache, A. Michon, G. Beaudoin, E. Cambril, and I. Sagnes, “Design and characteristics of single-frequency TEM00 Electrically-Pumped external-cavity VCSEL,” submitted in Opt. Express (2010).

8.

R. H. Abram, K. S. Gardner, E. Riis, and A. I. Ferguson, “Narrow linewidth operation of a tunable optically pumped semiconductor laser,” Opt. Express 12(22), 5434–5439 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

9.

H. Lindberg, A. Larsson, and M. Strassner, “Single-frequency operation of a high-power, long-wavelength semiconductor disk laser,” Opt. Lett. 30(17), 2260–2262 (2005).

10.

L. Bernstein, “Semiconductor joining by the solid-liquid interdiffusion (SLID) process,” J. Electrochem. Soc. 113, 1282–1288 (1966). [CrossRef]

11.

L. A. Coldren and S. W. Corzine, Diode lasers and Photonic Integrated Circuits (Wiley, New York, 1995).

12.

A. E. Siegman, Lasers (University Science Books, Mill Valley (California), 1986).

13.

M. Kuznetsov, M. Stern, and J. Coppeta, “Single transverse mode optical resonators,” Opt. Express 13, 171–181 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

14.

R. P. Muffoletto, “Numerical Techniques for Fresnel Diffraction in Computational Holography,” Ph.D. thesis, Graduate Faculty of the Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College (2006).

15.

K. Petermann, Laser diode modulation and noise, ADOP (Kluwer Academic, Tokyo, 1988). [CrossRef]

OCIS Codes
(140.3570) Lasers and laser optics : Lasers, single-mode
(140.5960) Lasers and laser optics : Semiconductor lasers
(250.7260) Optoelectronics : Vertical cavity surface emitting lasers
(270.2500) Quantum optics : Fluctuations, relaxations, and noise

ToC Category:
Lasers and Laser Optics

History
Original Manuscript: April 27, 2010
Revised Manuscript: June 9, 2010
Manuscript Accepted: June 13, 2010
Published: June 23, 2010

Citation
A. Laurain, M. Myara, G. Beaudoin, I. Sagnes, and A. Garnache, "Multiwatt–power highly–coherent compact single–frequency tunable Vertical–External–Cavity–Surface–Emitting–Semiconductor–Laser," Opt. Express 18, 14627-14636 (2010)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-18-14-14627


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References

  1. M. Kuznetsov, F. Hakimi, R. Sprague, and A. Mooradian, “Design and characteristics of high-power (> 0.5-W CW) diode-pumped vertical-external-cavity surface-emitting semiconductor lasers with circular TEM00 beams,” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 5, 561–573 (1999). [CrossRef]
  2. S. Lutgen, T. Albrecht, P. Brick, W. Reill, J. Luft, and W. Spath, “8-W High-Efficiency Continuous-Wave Semiconductor Disk Laser at 1000 nm,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 82, 3620–3622 (2003). [CrossRef]
  3. A. Garnache, A. Ouvrard, L. Cerutti, D. Barat, A. Vicet, F. Genty, Y. Rouillard, D. Romanini, and E. Cerda-Méndez, “2-2.7μm single frequency tunable Sb–based lasers operating in CW at RT: Microcavity and External cavity VCSELs, DFB,” in Proc. SPIE, vol. 6184, p. 61840N (2006).
  4. A. Garnache, A. Ouvrard, and D. Romanini, “Single–Frequency operation of External–Cavity VCSELs: Nonlinear multimode temporal dynamics and quantum limit,” Opt. Express 15(15), 9403–9417 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  5. A. Laurain, M. Myara, G. Beaudoin, I. Sagnes, and A. Garnache, “High power single–frequency continuously–tunable compact extended–cavity semiconductor laser,” Opt. Express 17(12), 9503–9508 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  6. M. Jacquemet, M. Domenech, G. Lucas-Leclin, P. Georges, J. Dion, M. Strassner, I. Sagnes, and A. Garnache, “Single-Frequency High-Power CW Vertical External Cavity Surface Emitting Semiconductor Laser at 1003 nm and 501nm by Intracavity Frequency Doubling,” Appl. Phys. B 86(3), 503–510 (2006). [CrossRef]
  7. A. Laurain, A. Garnache, A. Michon, G. Beaudoin, E. Cambril, and I. Sagnes, “Design and characteristics of single-frequency TEM00 Electrically-Pumped external-cavity VCSEL,” submitted in Opt. Express (2010).
  8. R. H. Abram, K. S. Gardner, E. Riis, and A. I. Ferguson, “Narrow linewidth operation of a tunable optically pumped semiconductor laser,” Opt. Express 12(22), 5434–5439 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  9. H. Lindberg, A. Larsson, and M. Strassner, “Single-frequency operation of a high-power, long-wavelength semiconductor disk laser,” Opt. Lett. 30(17), 2260–2262 (2005).
  10. L. Bernstein, “Semiconductor joining by the solid-liquid interdiffusion (SLID) process,” J. Electrochem. Soc. 113, 1282–1288 (1966). [CrossRef]
  11. L. A. Coldren, and S. W. Corzine, Diode lasers and Photonic Integrated Circuits (Wiley, New York, 1995).
  12. A. E. Siegman, Lasers (University Science Books, Mill Valley (California), 1986).
  13. M. Kuznetsov, M. Stern, and J. Coppeta, “Single transverse mode optical resonators,” Opt. Express 13, 171–181 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  14. R. P. Muffoletto, “Numerical Techniques for Fresnel Diffraction in Computational Holography,” Ph.D. thesis, Graduate Faculty of the Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College (2006).
  15. K. Petermann, Laser diode modulation and noise, ADOP (Kluwer Academic, Tokyo, 1988). [CrossRef]

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