Quasi-periodic distributed feedback laser


Although lasers have found numerous applications, their design is often still based on the concept of a gain medium within a mirror cavity. Exceptions to this are distributed feedback lasers1, in which feedback develops along a periodic structure, or random lasers, which do not require any form of cavity2. Random lasers have very rich emission spectra, but are difficult to control. Distributed feedback devices, conversely, have the same limited design possibilities of regular lasers. We show, by making use of a quasi-crystalline structure in an electrically pumped device, that several advantages of a random laser can be combined with the predictability of a distributed feedback resonator. We have constructed a terahertz quantum cascade laser based on a Fibonacci distributed feedback sequence, and show that engineering of the self-similar spectrum of the grating allows features beyond those possible with traditional periodic resonators, such as directional output independent of the emission frequency and multicolour operation.

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Figure 1: Periodic versus quasi-periodic gratings.
Figure 2: Emission spectra from devices with different grating periods and duty cycles.
Figure 3: Far-field pattern.
Figure 4: Light–current characteristics.
Figure 5: Two-colour DFB laser.


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The authors thank B. Witzigmann for useful discussions. This work was supported in part by the European Commission through the Research and Training Network ‘Physics of Intersubband Semiconductor Emitters’ and the integrated project ‘Teranova’. The authors also acknowledge support from the Italian Ministry of Research through the project ‘National Laboratory for Nanotechnology applied to Genomics and Post-Genomics’.

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L.M, A.T. and D.W. conceived the experiment. L.M. fabricated the devices and carried out measurements and simulations. C.W. performed part of the processing and H.E.B grew the semiconductor heterostructure. All authors discussed the results and implications and contributed to the manuscript at various stages.

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Correspondence to Alessandro Tredicucci.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Mahler, L., Tredicucci, A., Beltram, F. et al. Quasi-periodic distributed feedback laser. Nature Photon 4, 165–169 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2009.285

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