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Start-up targets tunable VCSELs

02 Apr 2004

Two-Chip Photonics says that it can make 1.5micron VCSELs that tune across 30nm.

Following a highly successful European project (TUNVIC) on tunable semiconductor lasers, two researchers from the Technical Univeristy of Darmstadt have formed a company to commercialise long-wavelength tunable VCSELs.

The start-up Two-Chip Photonics is now considering the market potential for its tunable lasers that have a centre wavelength of 1550 nm and a tuning range of about 30 nm -- the largest to date for a singlemode VCSEL. The lasers are made in collaboration with Vertilas, the Walter Schottky Institute in Munich and Technical University of Darmstadt.

They consist of an InGaAs VCSEL which has its top mirror removed and replaced with a movable MEMS mirror membrane. The laser’s emission wavelength is tuned by applying a small current which causes the position of the mirror membrane, and hence the length of the laser cavity, to change.

Although the lasers currently have a maximum output power of around 100 microW, Frank Riemenschneider, Two-Chips’ CEO, says that they will present a paper at CLEO next month that shows that this can be pushed to at least 500 microW.

“We are currently developing the packaging,” said Riemenschneider. “We have engineering samples in a TO5-can but many customers will want fiber-coupled devices in a butterfly package and we are working on that now. This will take about six months.”

As for applications for the lasers he says two most likely areas are gas sensing and inventory spares for telecom networks. In order to help finance the company, Two-Chip also offers a range of consulting services for characterising lasers. Example measurements include laser linewidth, bit-error rate, beam profile and relative intensity noise.

Oliver Graydon is editor of Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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