• Advanced Photonics
  • Vol. 1, Issue 1, 014002 (2019)
Cun-Zheng Ning1、2、3、*
Author Affiliations
  • 1Tsinghua University, Department of Electronic Engineering, Beijing, China
  • 2Tsinghua University, International Center for Nano-Optoelectronics, Beijing, China
  • 3Arizona State University, School of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering, Tempe, Arizona, United States
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    Semiconductor lasers, an important subfield of semiconductor photonics, have fundamentally changed many aspects of our lives and enabled many technologies since their creation in the 1960s. As in other semiconductor-based fields, such as microelectronics, miniaturization has been a constant theme, with nanolasers being an important frontier of research over the last decade. We review the progress, existing issues, and future prospects of nanolasers, especially in relation to their potential application in chip-scale optical interconnects. One of the important challenges in this application is minimizing the size and energy consumption of nanolasers. We begin with the application background of this challenge and then compare basic features of various semiconductor lasers. We present existing issues with nanolasers and discuss potential solutions to meet the size and energy-efficiency challenge. Our discussions cover a broad range of miniaturized lasers, including plasmonic nanolasers and lasers with two-dimensional monolayer gain materials, with focus on near-infrared wavelengths.

    1 Introduction

    The research field of semiconductor lasers is at the very core of the larger field of semiconductor photonics (also known as optoelectronics). This is a field encompassing both fundamental science and a wide range of important technologies. From the scientific perspective, light–semiconductor interaction plays a foundational role in understanding semiconductors as gain media. The development of semiconductor lasers since the early 1960s has played an important role in our understanding of the basic optical properties of semiconductors and has revealed a wealth of important physical phenomena over the last five decades or so. From a technological perspective, semiconductor lasers have fundamentally altered the technology landscape and contributed greatly to our modern lifestyle—from miniature semiconductor lasers that are ubiquitous in many tech gadgets (such as CD/DVD players, sensors in our smartphones, and bar-code scanners) to the lasers that serve as workhorses within the modern communication systems that drive our internet, supercomputers, and data centers. As we stand at the beginning of the second half-century of semiconductor lasers, it is important to review the frontiers of the field, to foresee and analyze any potential challenges, and to develop strategies to meet such challenges. As with the larger field of semiconductor photonics, semiconductor laser research faces three major challenges: device size and energy efficiency, wavelength or bandgap diversity, and system integration. These challenges are explored in the following sections.

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    Cun-Zheng Ning. Semiconductor nanolasers and the size-energy-efficiency challenge: a review[J]. Advanced Photonics, 2019, 1(1): 014002
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    Category: Reviews
    Received: Oct. 3, 2018
    Accepted: Dec. 29, 2018
    Published Online: Feb. 18, 2019
    The Author Email: Ning Cun-Zheng (cning@tsinghua.edu.cn)