After spending two years at the University of Karlsruhe studying the electrical and thermal transport properties of molecular crystals, Alf Adams joined Surrey in 1967.
Prizes and honours
He was awarded the Duddell Medal and Prize in 1995 and the Rank Prize for Optoelectronics in 2014 for his work on strained-layer quantum well lasers and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1996.
Alf started the first work on III-V semiconductors at Surrey which now forms the core of the work of the Optoelectronic Materials and Devices research group. His main interest at the moment is in the physics of semiconductor lasers and optical amplifiers and modulators.
We find that non-radiative recombination plays an important role in p-doped quantum-dot lasers. Along with carrier thermalisation effects, this is responsible for the temperature insensitive operation as observed around room temperature in these lasers.
The apparent temperature stability of GaInNAs-based lasers is-attributed to significant defect current. By removing this current, GaInNAs devices have a similar temperature dependence to InGaAsP devices whilst AlGaInAs devices are more thermally stable.
We present a comprehensive theoretical and experimental analysis of 1.3-mum InGaAsN/GaAs lasers. After introducing the 10-band k . p Hamiltonian which predicts transition energies observed experimentally, we employ it to investigate laser properties of ideal and real InGaAsN/GaAs laser devices. Our calculations show that the addition of N reduces the peak gain and differential gain at fixed carrier density, although the gain saturation value and the peak gain as a function of radiative current density are largely unchanged due to the incorporation of N. The gain characteristics are optimized by including the minimum amount of nitrogen necessary to prevent strain relaxation at the given well thickness. The measured spontaneous emission and gain characteristics of real devices are well described by the theoretical model. Our analysis shows that the threshold current is dominated by nonradiative, defect-related recombination. Elimination of these losses would enable laser characteristics comparable with the best InGaAsP/InP-based lasers with the added advantages provided by the GaAs system that are important for vertical integration.
The authors describe a straightforward experimental technique for measuring the facet temperature of a semiconductor laser under high-power operation by analyzing the laser emission itself. By applying this technique to 1-mm-long 980-nm lasers with 6- and 9-mum-wide tapers, they measure a large increase in facet temperature under both continuous wave (CW) and pulsed operation. Under CW operation, the facet temperature increases from similar to25 degreesC at low currents to over 140 degreesC at 500 mA. From pulsed measurements they observe a sharper rise in facet temperature as a function of current (similar to 400 degreesC at 500 mA) when compared with the CW measurements. This difference is caused by self-heating which limits the output power and hence facet temperature under CW operation. Under pulsed operation the maximum measured facet temperature was in excess of 1000 degreesC for a current of 1000 mA. Above this current, both lasers underwent. catastrophic optical damage (COD). These results show a striking increase in facet temperature under high-power operation consistent with the facet melting at COD. This is made possible by measuring the laser under pulsed operation.
The pressure dependence of the components of the recombination current at threshold in 1.3-mum GaInNAs single quantum-well lasers is presented using for the first time high-pressure spontaneous emission measurements up to 13 kbar. It is shown that, above 6 kbar, the rapid increase of the threshold current With increasing pressure is associated with the unusual increase of the Auger-related nonradiative recombination current, while the defect-related monomolecular nonradiative recombination current is almost constant. Theoretical calculations show that the increase of the Auger current can be attributed to a large increase in the threshold carrier density with pressure, Which is mainly due to the increase in the electron effective mass arising from the enhanced level-anticrossing between the GaInNAs conduction band and the nitrogen level.
We show that the dramatic changes in threshold current density with changing active region growth temperature in 1.3mum GaInNAs-based lasers can be attributed nearly entirely to changes in the defect related monomolecular recombination current.
We have investigated the temperature and pressure dependence of the threshold current (I-th) of 1.3 mum emitting GaInNAs vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) and the equivalent edge-emitting laser (EEL) devices employing the same active region. Our measurements show that the VCSEL devices have the peak of the gain spectrum on the high-energy side of the cavity mode energy and hence operate over a wide temperature range. They show particularly promising I-th temperature insensitivity in the 250-350 K range. We have then used a theoretical model based on a 10-band k.P Hamiltonian and experimentally determined recombination coefficients from EELs to calculate the pressure and temperature dependency of I-th. The results show good agreement between the model and the experimental data, supporting both the validity of the model and the recombination rate parameters. We also show that for both device types, the super-exponential temperature dependency of I-th at 350 K and above is due largely to Auger recombination.
We show that even in quantum-dot (QD) lasers with very low threshold current densities (J(th) = 40-50 A/cm(2) at 300 K), the temperature sensitivity of the threshold current arises from nonradiative recombination that comprises similar to 60% to 70% of J(th) at 300 K, whereas the radiative part of J(th) is almost temperature insensitive. The influence of the nonradiative recombination mechanism decreases with increasing hydrostatic pressure and increasing band gap, which leads to a decrease of the threshold current. We also studied, for the first time, the band gap dependence of the radiative part Of Jth, which in contrast increases strongly with increasing band gap. These results suggest that Auger recombination is an important intrinsic recombination mechanism for 1.3-mu m lasers, even in a very low threshold QD device, and that it is responsible for the temperature sensitivity of the threshold current.
The improved thermal stability of 1.5 mu m InGaAlAs- compared with InGaAs-based lasers is investigated using a combination of low temperature and high pressure techniques. The results indicate that this is due to lower nonradiative Auger recombination in the InGaAlAs devices because of the higher conduction band offset made possible with the InGaAlAs system which results in a lower hole density in the quantum wells at threshold.
InAs quantum-dot (QD) lasers were investigated in the temperature range 20-300 K and under hydrostatic pressure in the range of 0-12 kbar at room temperature. The results indicate that Auger recombination is very important in 1.3-mum QD lasers at room temperature and it is, therefore, the possible cause of the relatively low characteristic temperature observed, of T-0 = 41 K. In the 980-mn QD lasers where T-0 = 110-130 K, radiative recombination dominates. The laser emission photon energy E-las increases linearly with pressure p at 10.1 and 8.3 meV/kbar for 980 nm and 1.3-mum QD lasers, respectively. For the 980-mn QD lasers the threshold current increases with pressure at a rate proportional to the square of the photon energy E-las(2). However, la the threshold current of the 1.3-mum QD laser decreases. by 26% over a 12-kbar pressure range. This demonstrates the presence of a nonradiative recombination contribution to the threshold current, which decreases with increasing pressure. The authors show that this nonradiative contribution is Auger recombination. The results are discussed in the framework of a theoretical model based on the electronic structure and radiative recombination calculations carried out using an 8 x 8 k(.)p Hamiltonian.
We investigate the wavelength dependence of the catastrophic optical damage current in 980nm lasers. Using high pressure and low temperature techniques, we find an intrinsic dependence of this threshold on wavelength.
We report on the pressure dependence of the threshold current in 1.3 µm InGaAsP and 1.5 µm InGaAs quantum-well lasers measured at low temperatures ~100 K. It was found that the threshold current of both devices slowly increases with increasing pressure (i.e., increasing band gap) at ~100 K consistent with the calculated variation of the radiative current. In contrast, at room temperature we observed a reduction of the threshold current with increasing pressure. Our low-temperature, high-pressure data confirm the results of previous atmospheric pressure measurements on the same devices which indicated a transition in the dominant recombination mechanism from radiative to Auger as the device temperature is increased from ~100 to 300 K
We report on the pressure dependence of the threshold current in 1.3 mum InGaAsP and 1.5 mum InGaAs quantum-well lasers measured at low temperatures similar to100 K. It was found that the threshold current of both devices slowly increases with increasing pressure (i.e., increasing band gap) at similar to100 K consistent with the calculated variation of the radiative current. In contrast, at room temperature we observed a reduction of the threshold current with increasing pressure. Our low-temperature, high-pressure data confirm the results of previous atmospheric pressure measurements on the same devices which indicated a transition in the dominant recombination mechanism from radiative to Auger as the device temperature is increased from similar to100 to 300 K.
The temperature dependence of the threshold current of InGaAsSb/AlGaAsSb compressively
strained lasers is investigated by analyzing the spontaneous emission from working laser devices
through a window formed in the substrate metallization and by applying high pressures. It is found
that nonradiative recombination accounts for 80% of the threshold current at room temperature and
is responsible for the high temperature sensitivity. The authors suggest that Auger recombination
involving hot holes is suppressed in these devices because the spin-orbit splitting energy is larger
than the band gap, but other Auger processes persist and are responsible for the low T0 values.
The authors have measured the output spectrum and the threshold current in 9.2 mu m wavelength GaAs/Al0.45Ga0.55As quantum-cascade lasers at 115 K as a function of hydrostatic pressure up to 7.3 kbars. By extrapolation back to ambient pressure, thermally activated escape of electrons from the upper lasing state up to delocalized states of the Gamma valley is shown to be an important contribution to the threshold current. On the other hand leakage into the X valley, although it has a very high density of states and is nearly degenerate with the Gamma band edge in the barrier, is insignificant at ambient pressure.
The temperature dependence of the threshold current of InGaAsSb/AlGaAsSb compressively strained lasers is investigated by analyzing the spontaneous emission from working laser devices through a window formed in the substrate metallization and by applying high pressures. It is found that nonradiative recombination accounts for 80% of the threshold current at room temperature and is responsible for the high temperature sensitivity. The authors suggest that Auger recombination involving hot holes is suppressed in these devices because the spin-orbit splitting energy is larger than the band gap, but other Auger processes persist and are responsible for the low T-0 values.