Oxide VCSELs are the emitter of choice for high-speed optical communication applications. A low divergence circular beam, wafer-level testing and the capability to create dense two-dimensional arrays provide the VCSEL with unique advantages over edge emitting lasers, such that VSCELs have become a significant part of the optical communication market. An equally important metric for VCSELs is field reliability since significant failure rates are unacceptable for implementation of reliable networks.
In order to better understand potential failure paths of VCSELs during field use, a variety of failures have been intentionally created on oxide VCSELs made from AlGaAs / GaAs materials operating at 850nm. Failures were created with epitaxial defects, scratches, surface contamination, thermal shock , ESD and elevated temperature and humidity (85C/85% humidity). We will present the results of these intentional failures, assess high-probability failure paths and compare and contrast the various failure mechanisms.