Here we present lifetime test results of 4 groups of quantum cascade lasers (QCL) under various aging conditions including an accelerated life test. The total accumulated life time exceeds 1.5 million device·hours, which is the largest QCL reliability study ever reported. The longest single device aging time was 46.5 thousand hours (without failure) in the room temperature test. Four failures were found in a group of 19 devices subjected to the accelerated life test with a heat-sink temperature of 60 °C and a continuous-wave current of 1 A. Visual inspection of the laser facets of failed devices revealed an astonishing phenomenon, which has never been reported before, which manifested as a dark belt of an unknown substance appearing on facets. Although initially assumed to be contamination from the environment, failure analysis revealed that the dark substance is a thermally induced oxide of InP in the buried heterostructure semiinsulating layer. When the oxidized material starts to cover the core and blocks the light emission, it begins to cause the failure of QCLs in the accelerated test. An activation energy of 1.2 eV is derived from the dependence of the failure rate on laser core temperature. With the activation energy, the mean time to failure of the quantum cascade lasers operating at a current density of 5 kA/cm2 and heat-sink temperature of 25°C is expected to be 809 thousand hours.
Feng Xie, Hong-Ky Nguyen, Herve Leblanc, Larry Hughes, Jie Wang, Dean J. Miller, and Kevin Lascola, "Long-term reliability study and failure analysis of quantum cascade lasers," Proc. SPIE 10123, Novel In-Plane Semiconductor Lasers XVI, 101231J (Presented at SPIE OPTO: February 02, 2017; Published: 20 February 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2255069.
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