Polarization properties of semiconductor quantum dot and dash lasers

Self-assembled quantum-dots (QDs) represent a distributed ensemble of zero dimensional structures, each presenting a near-singular density of states. The QD size, shape, areal density and optical properties depend on growth parameters, such as growth temperature, growth rate and amount of InAs deposed. QDs are very suitable for optoelectronic device applications as during the epitaxial QD growth the phase transition relieves the strain elastically without introducing defects. Embedded in the active medium of a semiconductor laser diode QD's unique properties lead to improved and often novel characteristics as compared to bulk or quantum-well (QW) devices. In particular In(Ga)As QD lasers on GaAs substrates are of largest interest as the spectral range of their emission wavelength reaches further into the infrared than that of QW lasers of the same material system. The emission wavelength of strained InGaAs QW lasers is limited to about 1150nm, whereas in In(Ga)As QD lasers an emission wavelength beyond 1.3µm is feasible. Such kind of QD lasers performed – as recently reported – ultralow threshold current densities combined with decreased temperature sensitivity, relatively high modulation bandwith, low chirp, which has been already predicted many years ago. Beside quantum dot's application in semiconductor lasers, it has been suggested to use QDs also for the optical active region in so-called semiconductor optical amplifier (SOA). So far, experimentally it was possible to demonstrate in QD SOAs a much faster gain recovery time due to more effective carrier re-filling from excited states than in quantum well structures. Also a smaller noise figure ratio compared to QWs was predicted in QD SOA, but has not been experimentally demonstrated yet. However, two major constraints related to the limit of the high-frequency modulation of QD lasers and the QD SOA's polarization sensitivity are required to be first resolved, before it is possible to implement both technologies replacing QW devices in optical broad telecommunications devices. The polarization properties of semiconductor quantum dot/-dash lasers and amplifiers have been addressed in this PhD thesis. Within this research work – studying systematically several quantum dot and -dash heterostructure of different material families – two major goals have been identified: (1) characterization of the optical polarization properties of quantum dot/-dash structures embedded in the active region of semiconductor optical amplifiers and (2) realization of polarization-insensitive quantum dot based SOAs. Moreover, this thesis focuses on the understanding of the underlying physics being responsible for the QD's polarization and the dependence of the optical gain on the QD's aspect ratio and compositional material contrast. In terms of the experimental work broad area laser devices have been fabricated by applying different clean room processing methods like photolithography, metal deposition, wet and plasma etching. Through a subsequent device characterization using optoelectronic measurement techniques the polarization characteristics of dots and dashes have been accessed. From broad area laser device characterization – measuring the polarization-resolved edge-emitted electroluminescence (EL) – the polarization properties of standard Stranski-Krastanov (SK), closely- and columnar stacked InAs/GaAs quantum dots as well of closely-stacked InAs/InP quantum dots and columnar-stacked InAs/InP quantum dashes – in total 32 devices – have been evaluated. The comparison of the transversal magnetic (TM) versus -electric (TE) integrated EL signal for above heterostructures provided very promising results in order to achieve polarization-independent QD SOA: Starting from standard SK QDs – emitting dominantly in TE mode – it was possible first to enhance the TM EL signal compared to TE by epitaxial shape-engineering of the dot/dash structure of the QD's aspect ratio and the compositional material contrast in columnar-stacked InAs/GaAs (InAs/InP) QDs (QDashes), and then inverting the polarization direction from dominant TE towards dominant TM. The latter polarization transition has been also confirmed by photovoltage spectroscopy (PVS), and as well from room-temperature TM-lasing demonstration – both carried out by our research partner from the Cardiff University, Wales (UK). Introducing the well-known segment contact method for gain measurements, which is based on the analysis of the amplified spontaneous emission (ASE) generated by cavities of different length, it was possible to access both the TM and TE gain of such columnar-stacked InAs/GaAs quantum dots. The work was motivated and funded by the European Union project "Zero Order Dimension based Industrial components Applied to teleCommunications" (ZODIAC) within the sixth framework program. Very fruitful collaborations in order to exchange scientific ideas/know-how and achieving joint results have been established in a pan-European and multicultural inspired environment between four industrial partners – Alcatel Thales III-V Lab (France), Bookham (GB), Innolume – GmbH (Germany), Nanoplus Nanosystems and Technologies-GmbH (Germany) – and three national research institutes – Laboratory for Photonics and Nanostructures (France), The Tyndall National Institute (Irland), Saint-Petersburg Physics and Technology Centre for Research and Education of the Russian Academy of Science (Russia) – and three Universities: École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland), Politechnika Wroclawska (Poland), Würzburg University (Germany). Besides this European ZODIAC project it was possible to establish with the Cardiff University, Wales (UK) a very constructive collaboration.

Deveaud-Plédran, Benoît
Fiore, Andrea
Lausanne, EPFL
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis4246-8

Note: The status of this file is: EPFL only

 Record created 2008-10-09, last modified 2018-01-28

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