June 16, 2006, Dortmund, Germany and San Jose, CA--NL Nanosemiconductor has developed a laser chip that will enable cost-effective WDM solutions for optical communications using silicon photonic technology including silicon-based arrayed waveguides (AWGs) and light modulators. A single-mode quantum-dot CW laser with spectral width of > 20 nm and spectral wavelength between 1200 and 1320 nm is currently being put into production at NL Nanosemiconductor's facilities in Germany.
Dr. Alexey Kovsh, COO at NL Nanosemiconductor explained the achievement, saying "The uniqueness of our laser is the width (25 nm) and uniform shape (less than 3 dB modulation at 0.5 nm resolution) of the spectrum in the lasing regime. Of further importance is the high reproducibility of the lasing spectrum shape. We managed to develop a way to get a laser to lase with a very wide emission spectrum, which is of course opposite to the fundamental nature of lasing--at a very narrow spectrum." Emerging applications for light sources with a broad spectrum include optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging systems, which typically use so-called superluminescence LEDs (SLED) or amplified spontaneous emission (ASE) sources.
Another high volume potential of such devices may come with the introduction of silicon-based modulation technology in which many parallel channels are pumped by one light source. The main drawback of SLEDs includes limited power and low efficiency. Having a laser that delivers light with high power density over wide range of wavelength is clearly beneficial for future WDM silicon-photonic based solutions, since the output can be spectrally split with sufficient power for highly efficient networks using a single source laser. The development of quantum dot broadband lasers has been focused mainly on this application. However, work is also being done to extend the lasing spectrum above 40 nm and looking for shorter-term market potential, which may include medical and military applications.
For more information, see www.nanosemiconductor.com.