The development of a semiconductor laser compatible with silicon substrates and high-volume silicon integrated circuit manufacturing is a key requirement for monolithic silicon photonic transceivers. Tensile strained germanium is a promising material system which meets these criteria, and both optically pumped and electrically injected lasing have been reported[1,2]. It is well established that growth of thick (~1 micron) layers of germanium on silicon substrates by two-stage chemical vapour deposition followed by thermal annealing results in nearly-relaxed germanium with a residual biaxial tensile strain of typically 0.15-0.25% . Several researchers have investigated methods of amplifying this built-in strain in order to increase the attainable optical gain. Increased uniaxial strain levels have been demonstrated in suspended linear bridge structures created by wet chemical underetching. However, uniaxial strain is less effective than biaxial strain in converting germanium from an indirect to a direct gap semiconductor and hence generating substantial optical gain. In this work, we have computationally investigated and optimised two-dimensional patterning and under-etching of germanium membranes in order to achieve biaxial strain amplification. Strain simulations were carried out using finite element methods and the shape of the suspended germanium structures was optimised to achieve the highest tensile strain whilst remaining below the empirically determined yield strength of the thin membranes. The net optical gain distribution across the membrane was calculated using 8 band k.p bandstructure to determine the full interband gain, the inter-valence-band absorption and the intervalley and intravalley phonon- and impurity-assisted free carrier absorption. Band-gap narrowing effects were included using empirical data. Biaxial strain values of ~1% can be achieved in the lasing region of the structure, which, although below the level required to convert germanium to a direct band-gap material, nonetheless result in net optical gain with practical (mid 1019cm-3) n-type doping densities, for a range of electrical injection conditions.
1.J Liu et al, Opt. Lett 35 679 (2010)
2. R Camacho-Aguilera et al, Opt. Express 20 11316 (2012)
3. R Camacho-Aguilera et al, Appl. Phys. Lett 102 152106 (2013)
Daniel Burt, Waseem Aldeek, Osamah A. Aldaghri, Zoran Ikonic, Oswaldo M. Querin, and Robert W. Kelsall, "Design and optimisation of suspended strained germanium membranes for near-infrared lasing (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 9891, Silicon Photonics and Photonic Integrated Circuits V, 98910O (Presented at SPIE Photonics Europe: April 05, 2016; Published: 27 July 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2227622.5042345300001.
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