Dr. Jörg Schwartz, firstname.lastname@example.org
BREMEN, Germany – Newly developed monolithically integrated nitride laser microcavities
that incorporate quantum dots (QDs) could be an important step in making better
blue and green diode lasers as well as single-photon sources.
A team of solid-state physicists at the University of Bremen were
able to introduce InGaN quantum dots into fully epitaxial monolithic microcavities
that they grew by metallorganic vapor phase epitaxy. They then added pillar-shaped
microcavities by focused ion-beam etching. Their impact was measurable via microphotoluminescence
measurements, which showed discrete resonator modes of the microcavities, as well
as emission lines of single quantum dots. Pillar-structured microcavities exhibit
single-mode emission, which permits control of the direction and polarization of
Confining the light in a very small optically active material
is a well known way to improve the efficiency of laser devices – and to change
their material properties. This is where microscopic cavities and quantum dots come
in. In recent years, new ways to manipulate the light-matter interaction have been
found by modifying the geometry of photonic components at nanometer scales. Such
photonic structuring, applied in photonic crystals, can modify the optical density
of states, and it even allows emission and absorption rates to be enhanced or suppressed.
This is known as the Purcell effect and can be used to control
spontaneous emission – an interesting option for those who want to study quantum
effects or get single photons. On the other hand, semiconductor microcavities offer
potential for new optoelectronic devices and optical switches, but also for more
exotic things like spin-memory elements and polariton devices.
Monolithic pillars etched into the gallium nitride laser material act as microcavities, exhibiting
characteristic modes in the emission spectrum. Courtesy of the University of Bremen.
“To date, blue diode lasers’ microcavities are made
using hybrid technologies,” said Dr. Kathrin Sebald, a member of the research
team. “This means that the laser mirrors have been added using a different
material platform, such as SiO2/Si3N4.” Besides the production advantages
of using just a single material platform, this also offers better support for including
quantum dots, she explained.
Quantum dots in a laser medium strongly confine charge carriers,
which leads the quantum dots to exhibit an electronic structure similar to that
of atoms. As a result, the laser’s performance is closer to a gas laser’s
and avoids some of the disadvantages of traditional semiconductor lasers, with improvements
in modulation bandwidth, lasing threshold, relative intensity noise, linewidth enhancement
factor and temperature insensitivity.
The quantum dot active region may also be engineered to operate
at different wavelengths by varying quantum dot size and composition. This allows
quantum dot lasers to be fabricated to operate at wavelengths previously not possible
using semiconductor laser technology.
This is expected to be a benefit for LED and vertical-cavity surface-emitting
laser applications. “One issue to be addressed still is the Q-factor of the
device,” Sebald said, referring to the ability of the cavity to confine the
light. “In this respect, the monolithic solution does not yet match the hybrid