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24 January 2011 High finesse external cavity VCSELs: from very low noise lasers to dual frequency lasers
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Low noise-level optical sources are required for numerous applications such as microwave photonics, fiber-optic sensing and time/frequency references distribution. In this paper, we demonstrate how inserting a SC active medium into a centimetric high-Q external cavity is a simple way to obtain a shot-noise-limited laser source over a very wide frequency bandwidth. This approach ensures, with a compact design, a sufficiently long photon lifetime to reach the oscillation-relaxation- free class-A regime. This concept has been illustrated by inserting a 1/2-VCSEL in an external cavity including an etalon filter. A -156dB/Hz relative intensity noise level is obtained over the 100 MHz to 18 GHz bandwidth of interest. This is several orders of magnitude better than the noise, previously observed in VCSELs, belonging to the class-B regime. The optimization, in terms of noise, is shown to be a trade-off between the cavity length and the laser mode filtering. The transition between the class-B and class-A dynamical behaviors is directly observed by continuously controlling the photon lifetime is a sub-millimetric to a centimetric cavity length. It's proven that the transition occurs progressively, without any discontinuity. Based on the same laser architecture, tunable dual-frequency oscillation is demonstrated by reducing the polarized eigenstates overlap in the gain medium. The class-A dynamics of such a laser, free of relaxation oscillations, enables to suppress the electrical phase noise in excess, usually observed in the vicinity of the beat note. An original technique for jitter reduction in mode-locked VECSELs is also investigated. Such lasers are needed for photonic analog to digital converters.
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Ghaya Baili, Medhi Alouini, Loic Morvan, Fabien Bretenaker, Isabelle Sagnes, Arnaud Garnache, and Daniel Dolfi "High finesse external cavity VCSELs: from very low noise lasers to dual frequency lasers", Proc. SPIE 7945, Quantum Sensing and Nanophotonic Devices VIII, 79450A (24 January 2011);

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