QUANTUM DOTS ENTER TELECOM FRAY FOR DWDM

Four researchers from the Center for High Technology Materials at the University of New Mexico (UNM; Albuquerque, NM) have formed a company to develop quantum-dot (QD) lasers for telecommunication applications.

Four researchers from the Center for High Technology Materials at the University of New Mexico (UNM; Albuquerque, NM) have formed a company to develop quantum-dot (QD) lasers for telecommunication applications. The company, Zia Laser Inc., is developing a low-threshold-current QD laser with a continuous tuning range from 1400 to 1650 nm to cover the entire fiberoptic-telecommunication bandwidth range that also makes use of erbium-doped fiber amplifiers.

When Zia first incorporated in May, the focus was on high-power quantum- well lasers (already developed for lidar and free-space communication applications), according to Timothy Newell, a research assistant professor at UNM and secretary of Zia Laser. The group switched to quantum dots instead because of favorable performance factors, such as a low threshold current.

"QD lasers, due to their small physical dimension and low density of states, achieve inversion and lasing at much lower injection-current densities than double-heterostructure or quantum-well lasers," says Petros Varangis, a research assistant professor at UNM and president of Zia. "We have recently demonstrated the lowest-threshold room-temperature operation of QD lasers at 1.3 microns." They required only 16-A/cm2 injection-current density when the facets were coated for high reflectivity.

The researchers expect to produce prototypes in about six months and products in about nine months, Newell says. Currently, they are still developing the technology, while talking with venture capitalists about funding and to interested companies, such as New Focus (Santa Clara, CA) and Nortel (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), about potential commercial relationships. The other officers of the corporation include treasurer Luke Lester, an associate professor at UNM who leads the academic research team, and vice president Andreas Stintz, a member of the UNM research staff.-Hassaun Jones-Bey, Senior Editor

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