Novel semiconductor laser devices and systems featuring in-plane periodic optical nanostructures for quantum, biomedical, imaging and telecommunicatio

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Engineering


The aim of this research project is to conduct design and characterization of multiple types of novel semiconductor lasers in visible and near-infrared wavelength ranges and achieve their successful implementation and evaluation within facilities of the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre, University of Glasgow, as well as those of collaborating entities (National Physical Laboratory, UK; Compound Semiconductor Technology Global, Ltd., UK; etc.).
The laser diodes in question are state-of-the-art optoelectronic semiconductor devices implemented in AlGaAs and AlInGaAsP material systems, making use of one- and two-dimensional periodic optical nanostructures (Bragg gratings, photonic crystals) distributed in-plane in combination with advanced fabrication techniques (electron beam nanolithography, epitaxial regrowth) in order to achieve necessary level of performance or/and provide unconventional useful properties to the laser emission.
One of the main goals of the project involves achievement of distributed feedback lasers (DFBs) within 680-710nm wavelength window for application in novel strontium-based optical lattice atomic clocks currently developed in many research institutions around the world. DFB laser devices in these wavelengths have never been demonstrated before, and their utility is becoming more and more evident as strontium lattice clocks are continuously pushing boundaries of time-measurement precision, to the extent of making it possible to redefine the SI second. Opportunity to replace large, heavy and expensive laboratory-grade external cavity lasers in these setups with high-fidelity all-semiconductor DFBs would dramatically widen the range of potential applications for strontium lattice clocks to include aerospace, telecommunication, scientific, and many other fields currently deterred by weight, cost and/or experimental nature of the existing systems.
In this regard, the project is focused on implementation of every single step in fabrication of these DFB devices, including design, simulation, optimisation and growth of epitaxial material, design and nanolithographic definition of distributed Bragg structures as well as epitaxial regrowth by the means of metal-oxide vapour-phase epitaxy (MOVPE) in the University-owned reactor. In collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory, UK, fitness-for-purpose of the resulting devices will be evaluated inside an actual strontium clock setup.
Another part of this research project considers design, fabrication and optimisation of the photonic-crystal surface-emitting laser (PCSEL), investigation and description of its unique optical properties and proposal of potential applications for such devices in fields including biomedical imaging and sensing, telecommunications, all-optical signal processing, etc.
PCSEL is a relatively new type of semiconductor laser structure, so far with only a few research groups around the world focusing their research on these devices. It implements a distributed Bragg lattice (photonic crystal) in order to establish in-plane optical feedback in two dimensions as well as extract light from the laser cavity via second-order Bragg scattering. This results in broad area single-mode emission, a unique property not achieved by any other semiconductor laser structure, and hence naturally low beam divergence. 2D in-plane feedback in these devices allows for their integration into coherently coupled arrays for power scaling and opens potential for optical intermodulation for telecommunication applications and solid-state beam steering for LIDAR, imaging and laser scanning.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509668/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1944303 Studentship EP/N509668/1 02/10/2017 30/09/2021 Aleksandr Boldin
Description Several different DFB and Fabry-Perot semiconductor laser devices at wavelengths required by strontium optical lattice clocks have been implemented, including an 813nm DFB laser, making us a step closer towards monolithic quantum clocks of vastly improved precision and accuracy. Functional epitaxially-grown gain medium for lasers around 700nm wavelength range has been developed in AlGaAs material system and thoroughly characterised through fabrication of broad-area Fabry-Perot lasers of incremental length.
Exploitation Route Advancements towards higher level of integration of strontium-based optical lattice clocks made as a part of the HELCATS project will form the foundation for further work in this direction, both for the award recipient and other research groups. In future, this should create commercial offerings of integrated, reliable, lightweight strontium-based quantum clock solutions for applications in various fields such as aerospace, metrology, telecommunications.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Other

Description High-powEr phosphorous-based DFB Lasers for Cold ATom Systems (HELCATS)
Amount £194,067 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R044848/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 03/2019
Description AlGaAs and AlGaInAsP Epitaxy Development and Growth 
Organisation Compound Semiconductor Technologies Global
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Design and simulation of epitaxial laser structure in AlGaAs and AlGaInAsP material systems in wavelength range of 680-710nm.
Collaborator Contribution Process optimisation and MOVPE growth of the desired epitaxial designs.
Impact Functional AlGaAs laser epitaxy for 700nm wavelength emission has been successfully developed and grown.
Start Year 2018
Title Collection of LabVIEW LIV applications 
Description A collection of applications written in LabVIEW intended to facilitate measurement of light-current-voltage parameters (LIV), including over temperature, from a large range of light-emitting semiconductor devices (lasers, LEDs, SLDs, etc.). Support has been implemented for numerous different experimental setups and configurations of instruments available in the laboratory, including multi-channel and pulsed current sources and optical power meters for various wavelength ranges. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact Development of this software package has enabled the researcher, as well as other members of the research group, to perform characterisation of in-house fabricated devices and obtain experimental data of publishable standard. 
Title Collection of LabVIEW optical spectroscopy applications 
Description A collection of applications written in LabVIEW intended to enable automated measurements of optical emission spectrum of semiconductor light-emitting devices (LEDs, lasers, SLDs, etc.) over a range of electric currents and temperatures. Several different instruments commonly used in the research group's laboratory are supported. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact Development of this software package has enabled the researcher, as well as other members of the research group, to perform automated characterisation of in-house fabricated semiconductor devices instead of following a tedious and lengthy manual procedure, reducing fatigue and potential for human error. 
Title Collection of LabVIEW power alignment applications 
Description A collection of applications written in LabVIEW design to aid precise alignment of experimental setups for maximum optical power (e.g. lensed fiber approach to laser under test). The software continuously reads optical power data from the power meter at selected speed and plots a trace on a rolling chart to provide user with idea of trends in optical power change during alignment. Many different power meter instruments are supported. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact Development of this software package has enabled the researcher, as well as other members of the research group, to perform precise alignment of experimental setups, resulting in improved signal-to-noise ratio of collected data as well as better performance of certain sensitive setups, e.g. external cavity lasers. 
Title General semiconductor characterisation setup 
Description Multi-purpose versatile setup for light-current-voltage (LIV) and spectral characterization of edge-emitting and surface-emitting laser diodes and other light-emitting devices in visible and near-infrared spectrum, with temperature-controlled stage capable of holding up to a 3'' wafer, dual-magnification microscope, and Kelvin (4-wire) probing functionality for ohmic contact evaluation using circular transfer length method (CTLM). 
Type Of Technology Systems, Materials & Instrumental Engineering 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact This setup has enabled the research group to perform optimization of ohmic contacts to various types of semiconductor materials using CTLM and to characterize in-house-designed epitaxial materials and photonic devices.