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Nat Commun. 2012 Jul 17;3:952. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1958.

Efficient power extraction in surface-emitting semiconductor lasers using graded photonic heterostructures.

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  • 1Institut d'Electronique Fondamentale, Université Paris Sud, UMR8622 CNRS, 91405 Orsay, France.


Symmetric and antisymmetric band-edge modes exist in distributed feedback surface-emitting semiconductor lasers, with the dominant difference being the radiation loss. Devices generally operate on the low-loss antisymmetric modes, although the power extraction efficiency is low. Here we develop graded photonic heterostructures, which localize the symmetric mode in the device centre and confine the antisymmetric modes close to the laser facet. This modal spatial separation is combined with absorbing boundaries to increase the antisymmetric mode loss, and force device operation on the symmetric mode, with elevated radiation efficiency. Application of this concept to terahertz quantum cascade lasers leads to record-high peak-power surface emission (>100 mW) and differential efficiencies (230 mW A(-1)), together with low-divergence, single-lobed emission patterns, and is also applicable to continuous-wave operation. Such flexible tuning of the radiation loss using graded photonic heterostructures, with only a minimal influence on threshold current, is highly desirable for optimizing second-order distributed feedback lasers.

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