Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have found a way to significantly improve the performance of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers by drilling holes in their surfaces. Faster and cheaper long-haul optical communication systems, as well as photonic integrated circuits, could be the result.
Low-cost VCSELs are currently used in data communication applications where beam quality is of little importance. To operate at higher speeds and over longer distances, the devices must function in a single transverse mode with a carefully controlled beam.
"These characteristics are normally found only in very expensive lasers, not in mass-produced VCSELs," said Kent D. Choquette, an Illinois professor of electrical and computer engineering and a researcher at the universitys Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory. "By embedding a two-dimensional photonic crystal into the top face of a VCSEL, however, we can accurately design and control the devices mode characteristics."
James E. Kloeppel | UIUC
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