Patent No. 6,611,539

Wavelength-tunable vertical cavity surface emitting laser and method of making same

Issued: August 26, 2003
Filed: May 29, 2001

Inventors: Ledentsov; Nikolai (Berlin, DE); Shchukin; Vitaly (Berlin, DE)
Assignee: NSC Nanosemiconductor GmbH (Dortmund, DE)

A wavelength tunable semiconductor vertical cavity surface emitting laser which includes at least one active element including an active layer generating an optical gain by injection of a current, and at least one phase control element, and mirrors. The phase control element contains a modulator exhibiting a strong narrow optical absorption peak on a short wavelength side from the wavelength of the laser generation. The wavelength control is realized by using a position-dependent electro-optical effect. If a reverse bias is applied, the absorption maximum is shifted to longer wavelengths due to the Stark effect. If a forward bias is applied, a current is injected and results in the bleaching and reduction of the peak absorption. In both cases a strong modulation of the refractive index in the phase control element occurs. The effect tunes the wavelength of the cavity mode, and the sign and the value of the wavelength shift are defined by the position of the modulator. Two phase control cascades can be implemented into the laser, one of which shifts the wavelength of the emitted light to larger values, and the other shifts the wavelength of the emitted light to smaller values. A power equalizing element can be used in such laser allowing either to maintain the constant output power at different emission wavelengths or to realize an independent frequency and amplitude modulation. A photodetecting element can be implemented in the laser allowing calibration of the laser for all operations.

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