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Comparative analysis of spasers, vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers and surface-plasmon-emitting diodes

Nature Photonics volume 8, pages 468473 (2014) | Download Citation

Abstract

Electrically pumped subwavelength plasmonic lasers (spasers) have attracted significant interest in recent years, but their properties are still not well understood, especially in comparison to the ubiquitous all-dielectric semiconductor microlasers (vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers, VCSELs). Our theoretical analysis reveals that, from the fundamental physics point of view, a spaser does not differ from a semiconductor laser, as most of the energy is contained in the oscillations of electrons (free versus bound) and not in the electromagnetic field. At the same time, due to large losses in the metal, the technical characteristics of a spaser differ significantly from the VCSEL in that the spaser has at least three orders of magnitude higher threshold current density, four to five orders of magnitude wider linewidth, and a speed that is only a few times higher than in a VCSEL or an incoherent surface-plasmon-emitting diode. These results should assist researchers in making an informed choice of emitters for various particular optoelectronic applications.

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Acknowledgements

J.B.K. acknowledges support from the Mid-Infra-Red Technologies for Health and the Environment Research Center (National Science Foundation grant no. MIRTHE NSF ERC; EEC0540832).

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21218, USA

    • Jacob B. Khurgin
  2. Department of Physics, University of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts 02125, USA

    • Greg Sun

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Contributions

J.B.K. performed analytical derivations and G.S. carried out numerical analysis.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jacob B. Khurgin.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2014.94

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