, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 347-366
Date: 11 Sep 2008

External cavity wavelength tunable semiconductor lasers - a review

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External cavity tunable lasers have been around for many years and now constitute a large group of semiconductor lasers featuring very unique properties. The present review has been restricted to the systems based on the edge emitting diode lasers set-up in a hybrid configuration. The aim was to make the paper as concise as possible without sacrificing, however, most important details. We start with short description of the fundamentals essential for operation of the external cavity lasers to set the stage for explanation of their properties and some typical designs. Then, semiconductor optical amplifiers used in the external cavity lasers are highlighted more in detail as well as diffraction gratings and other types of wavelength-selective reflectors used to provide optical feedback in these lasers. This is followed by a survey of designs and properties of various external cavity lasers both with mobile bulk gratings and with fixed wavelength selective mirrors. The paper closes with description of some recent developments in the field to show prospects for further progress directed towards miniaturization and integration of the external cavity laser components used so far to set-up hybrid systems.