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The US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is a leader in developing innovative photonics solutions, including solid-state semiconductor lasers and with improved power, efficiency, and operating range enabled through thermal management.
ARL’s new thermal dissipation scheme works by modifying the mesa (i.e., active region and upper and lower cladding layers) and purposefully selecting materials for other components of the device. This combination works to move heat away from the laser’s active region and down through the substrate over a wider area than is provided by the setup of conventional semiconductor laser devices. As a result, heat does not build up as much in the active core, which allows the laser to be operated at higher temperatures, particularly in continuous-wave (cw) mode.
The materials and design of the laser device are compatible with typical semiconductor fabrication techniques. Moreover, the completed device is expected to cost less than conventional IC lasers. The invention can be used to improve the performance of a quantum cascade laser or other semiconductor laser. It could also make epi-side-up lasers comparable in performance to the more complicated and expensive epi-side-down devices in low-power, pulsed applications.
- Substantial drop (40%) in the temperature difference between the active region and heat sink predicted from thermal modeling
- Achieves significant reduction in resistance, averaging 25 K/W for a 1 mm long device
- Improved operating characteristics: 80 K cw at 3.4 µm wavelength with high-power conversion efficiency (23%) and high differential external quantum efficiency (532%); cw operation up to 214 K
- Target applications include chemical detection, IR countermeasures, IR ladars, free-space communications
- US patent 7,061,022 is available for express license
- Potential for collaboration with US Army inventor and laboratory