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High-Coherence Hybrid Si/III-V Semiconductor Lasers


Santis, Christos Theodoros (2013) High-Coherence Hybrid Si/III-V Semiconductor Lasers. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/M4KJ-8H56.


The relentlessly increasing demand for network bandwidth, driven primarily by Internet-based services such as mobile computing, cloud storage and video-on-demand, calls for more efficient utilization of the available communication spectrum, as that afforded by the resurging DSP-powered coherent optical communications. Encoding information in the phase of the optical carrier, using multilevel phase modulationformats, and employing coherent detection at the receiver allows for enhanced spectral efficiency and thus enables increased network capacity. The distributed feedback semiconductor laser (DFB) has served as the near exclusive light source powering the fiber optic, long-haul network for over 30 years. The transition to coherent communication systems is pushing the DFB laser to the limits of its abilities. This is due to its limited temporal coherence that directly translates into the number of different phases that can be imparted to a single optical pulse and thus to the data capacity. Temporal coherence, most commonly quantified in the spectral linewidth Δν, is limited by phase noise, result of quantum-mandated spontaneous emission of photons due to random recombination of carriers in the active region of the laser.

In this work we develop a generically new type of semiconductor laser with the requisite coherence properties. We demonstrate electrically driven lasers characterized by a quantum noise-limited spectral linewidth as low as 18 kHz. This narrow linewidth is result of a fundamentally new laser design philosophy that separates the functions of photon generation and storage and is enabled by a hybrid Si/III-V integration platform. Photons generated in the active region of the III-V material are readily stored away in the low loss Si that hosts the bulk of the laser field, thereby enabling high-Q photon storage. The storage of a large number of coherent quanta acts as an optical flywheel, which by its inertia reduces the effect of the spontaneous emission-mandated phase perturbations on the laser field, while the enhanced photon lifetime effectively reduces the emission rate of incoherent quanta into the lasing mode. Narrow linewidths are obtained over a wavelength bandwidth spanning the entire optical communication C-band (1530-1575nm) at only a fraction of the input power required by conventional DFB lasers. The results presented in this thesis hold great promise for the large scale integration of lithographically tuned, high-coherence laser arrays for use in coherent communications, that will enable Tb/s-scale data capacities.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:semiconductor laser, high-Q optical resonator, hybrid, Si/III-V, phase noise, coherence, linewidth, coherent communications
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Electrical Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Yariv, Amnon
Thesis Committee:
  • Crosignani, Bruno
  • Painter, Oskar J.
  • Scherer, Axel
  • Yang, Changhuei
  • Yariv, Amnon (chair)
Defense Date:24 May 2013
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05312013-151934307
Persistent URL:
Santis, Christos Theodoros0000-0001-8636-1613
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7800
Deposited By: Christos Santis
Deposited On:21 Nov 2014 20:22
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:01

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