Over the past 20 years, research into Gallium Nitride (GaN) has evolved from LED lighting to Laser Diodes (LDs), with applications ranging from quantum to medical and into communications. Previously, off-the-shelf GaN LDs have been reported with a view on free space and underwater communications. However, there are applications where the ability to select a single emitted wavelength is highly desirable, namely in atomic clocks or in filtered free-space communications systems. To accomplish this, Distributed Feedback (DFB) geometries are utilised. Due to the complexity of overgrowth steps for buried gratings in III-Nitride material systems, GaN DFBs have a grating etched into the sidewall to ensure single mode operation, with wavelengths ranging from 405nm to 435nm achieved. The main motivation in developing these devices is for the cooling of strontium ions (Sr<sup>+</sup> ) in atomic clock applications, but their feasibility for optical communications have also been investigated. Data transmission rates exceeding 1 Gbit/s have been observed in unfiltered systems, and work is currently ongoing to examine their viability for filtered communications. Ultimately, transmission through Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) or Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) is desired, to ensure that data is communicated more coherently and efficiently. We present results on the characterisation of GaN DFBs, and demonstrate their capability for use in filtered optical communications systems.
Laser diodes based on Gallium Nitride (GaN) are useful devices in a wide range of applications including atomic spectroscopy, data storage and optical communications. To fully exploit some of these application areas there is a need for a GaN laser diode with high spectral purity, e.g. in atomic clocks, where a narrow linewidth blue laser source can be used to target the atomic cooling transition. We report on the continuous wave, room temperature operation of a distributed feedback laser diode (DFB-LD) with high-order notched gratings. The design, fabrication and characterization of DFB devices based on the (Al,In) GaN material system is described. A single peak emission at 408.6 nm with an optical power of 20 mW at 225 mA and a side mode suppression ratio (SMSR) of 35 dB was achieved. Additionally, we demonstrate the use of a GaN DFB-LD as a transmitter in visible optical communications system. We also present results from a DFB-LD optimized for laser cooling of Sr+.