WIAS Preprint No. 2838, (2021)

Semiconductor laser linewidth theory revisited


  • Wenzel, Hans
    ORCID: 0000-0003-1726-0223
  • Kantner, Markus
    ORCID: 0000-0003-4576-3135
  • Radziunas, Mindaugas
    ORCID: 0000-0003-0306-1266
  • Bandelow, Uwe
    ORCID: 0000-0003-3677-2347

2020 Mathematics Subject Classification

  • 78A60 35Q60 78-10


  • Semiconductor laser, spectral linewidth, coupled-wave equations, traveling wave model, longitudinal modes, noise, Langevin equations, Henry factor, Petermann factor, Chirp reduction factor, population inversion factor




More and more applications require semiconductor lasers distinguished not only by large modulation bandwidths or high output powers, but also by small spectral linewidths. The theoretical understanding of the root causes limiting the linewidth is therefore of great practical relevance. In this paper, we derive a general expression for the calculation of the spectral linewidth step by step in a self-contained manner. We build on the linewidth theory developed in the 1980s and 1990s but look from a modern perspective, in the sense that we choose as our starting points the time-dependent coupled-wave equations for the forward and backward propagating fields and an expansion of the fields in terms of the stationary longitudinal modes of the open cavity. As a result, we obtain rather general expressions for the longitudinal excess factor of spontaneous emission (K-factor) and the effective Alpha-factor including the effects of nonlinear gain (gain compression) and refractive index (Kerr effect), gain dispersion and longitudinal spatial hole burning in multi-section cavity structures. The effect of linewidth narrowing due to feedback from an external cavity often described by the so-called chirp reduction factor is also automatically included. We propose a new analytical formula for the dependence of the spontaneous emission on the carrier density avoiding the use of the population inversion factor. The presented theoretical framework is applied to a numerical study of a two-section distributed Bragg reflector laser.

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