Line shapes of near-infrared DFB and VCSEL diode lasers under the influence of system back reflections


Laser diode line widths and line shapes are experimentally investigated in dependence on the diode current and on back reflections from an optical system. Four distributed-feedback (DFB)-type diode lasers and two vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) have been tested within the same optical setup and using the same fitting methods. System back reflection ratios of light reflected back to the laser have been varied between −1 dB and −45 dB and were below −60 dB when all reflections were blocked. The background of this investigation is the evaluation of different laser types with respect to their suitability for sensor applications in which optical back reflections may occur, for example tunable diode-laser spectroscopy (TDLS). While DFB-type lasers showed almost pure Lorentzian line shapes and line widths of a few MHz, the tested VCSELs had a strong Gaussian contribution to the line shape, indicating stronger 1/f noise, which was also observed in the relative intensity noise of these particular lasers. System reflection ratios above −25 dB had strong effects on the line width in both DFB diode lasers and VCSELs, while some influences have been observed at even lower reflection ratios for DFB diode lasers. As much smaller reflection ratios are typically required in TDLS systems to avoid etalon-like fringes and self-mixing interference effects, we conclude that the influence on the line width is not the most important reason to minimize back reflections in practical TDLS systems or to choose one type of diode laser over the other.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge funding of the Erlangen Graduate School in Advanced Optical Technologies (SAOT) by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in the framework of the German excellence initiative.

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Correspondence to R. Engelbrecht.

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Engelbrecht, R., Lins, B., Zinn, P. et al. Line shapes of near-infrared DFB and VCSEL diode lasers under the influence of system back reflections. Appl. Phys. B 109, 441–452 (2012).

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  • Line Width
  • Intensity Noise
  • Relative Intensity Noise
  • Back Reflection
  • Spectral Line Width