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The semiconductor laser (SCL) is the principal light source powering the worldwide optical fiber network. The ever-increasing demand for data is causing the network to migrate to phase-coherent modulation formats, which place strict requirements on the temporal coherence of the light source that no longer can be met by current SCLs. This failure can be traced directly to the canonical laser design, in which photons are both generated and stored in the same, optically lossy, III-V material. This leads to an excessive and large amount of noisy spontaneous emission commingling with the laser mode, thereby degrading its coherence. High losses also decrease the amount of stored optical energy in the laser cavity, magnifying the effect of each individual spontaneous emission event on the phase of the laser field. Here, we propose a new design paradigm for the SCL. The keys to this paradigm are the deliberate removal of stored optical energy from the lossy III-V material by concentrating it in a passive, low-loss material and the incorporation of a very high-Q resonator as an integral (i.e., not externally coupled) part of the laser cavity. We demonstrate an SCL with a spectral linewidth of 18 kHz in the telecom band around 1.55 μm, achieved using a single-mode silicon resonator with Q of 10(6).


Christos Theodoros Santis, Scott T Steger, Yaakov Vilenchik, Arseny Vasilyev, Amnon Yariv. High-coherence semiconductor lasers based on integral high-Q resonators in hybrid Si/III-V platforms. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2014 Feb 25;111(8):2879-84

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PMID: 24516134

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