A 1550 nm DWDM planar external cavity laser is demonstrated to provide low phase / frequency noise and narrow
linewidth. The cavity includes a semiconductor gain chip and a planar lightwave circuit waveguide with Bragg
grating, packaged in a 14-pin butterfly package. The laser shows linewidth < 30 kHz and phase/frequency noise
comparable with that of long cavity fiber lasers. Performance is suitable for various fiber optic sensing systems,
including interferometric sensing in Oil and Gas, military/security and other applications, currently served mostly by
costly and less reliable laser sources.
The presence of laser phase noise (or frequency jitter) limits the resolution of a variety of interferometric sensors ranging from fiber optic acoustic sensors to gravitational wave detectors. At low frequencies, 0 to 100 kHz, the laser phase noise in semiconductor and diode pumped solid-state lasers is dominated by 1/f noise, the source of which is not well understood. We report on phase noise measurements for external cavity semiconductor lasers (ECSLs) utilizing a fiber Bragg grating in a compact butterfly package design produced by K2 Optronics. The results show that the phase noise is dominated by 1/f noise for low frequencies (10 to 100 kHz) transitioning to a white noise due to spontaneous emission for f > 100 kHz. We observed a factor of 40 improvement in the magnitude of the 1/f phase noise as compared to previously published results for a Hitachi HLP 1400 830 nm diode laser. The magnitude of the low frequency phase noise ranges from 100 to 10 microradians per meter per root Hz for frequencies ranging from 10 Hz to 2 kHz. These results are within a factor of 10 for phase noise measurements of the more expensive Lightwave Electronics Nd:YAG laser and a variety of Er-doped fiber lasers in this frequency range. For nominally similar ECSLs, experimental results indicate that the phase noise increases for lasers with larger leakage currents. Linewidth measurement results showed a Schawlow-Townes inverse power dependence for output powers up to 33 mWatts with the observed onset of a linewidth floor of 30 kHz. The RIN of the ECSLs varied from -120 to -155 dB Vrms per root Hz for frequencies ranging from 10 to 500 kHz. These RIN results are roughly equal to those observed for the Nd:YAG laser for frequencies less that 100 kHz. In summary, such low phase noise and RIN results make such ECSLs suitable for all but the most sensitive fiber optic sensing applications where the frequency range of interest is below 1 MHz.
Low threshold current single quantum well InGaAs/GaAs lasers are fabricated by metalorganic chemical vapor deposition on a nonplanar substrate. By taking advantage of the growth rate and doping differences on different crystal facets during the growth, an almost- buried heterostructure laser is made by a single growth step. Threshold currents as low as 1.0 mA under pulsed operation and 1.2 mA under continuous-wave operation are obtained for uncoated lasers at room-temperature. The lasers showed high external quantum efficiency (80%). High reflection coated laser (95%/95%) has a cw threshold current as low as 0.28 mA.
Strained InGaAs/GaAs quantum well three terminal lasers with monolithically integrated intracavity modulators were fabricated using low threshold current structures formed by the temperature engineered growth (TEG) technique. An on-off efficiency ratio of 556 with optical power contrast ratio of 7.5 was measured with a total DC power consumption of 25.3 mW. Preliminary digital modulation shows bit error rate (BER) lower than 10<SUP>-16</SUP> at 500 Mb/s. A theoretical analysis of the dynamic behavior of this device shows potential operation of 6.6 Gb/s with low inter-symbol interference.