The distances optical interconnects must cover are decreasing as Internet traffic continues to increase. Since short-reach interconnect applications require many transmitters, cost and power consumption are significant issues. Directly modulated lasers with a wavelength-scale active volume will be used as optical interconnects on boards and chips in the future because a small active volume is expected to reduce power consumption. We developed electrically driven photonic crystal (PhC) lasers with a wavelength-scale cavity in which the active region is embedded in a line-defect waveguide of an InP-based PhC slab. We call this a λ-scale embedded active region PhC laser, or a LEAP laser. The device, whose active region has six quantum wells with 2.5 × 0.3 × 0.15 μm3
active volume, exhibits a threshold current of 28 μA and provides 10 fJ/bit of operating energy to 25 Gbit/s NRZ (non-return-to-zero) signals. The fiber-coupled output power is 6.9 μW. We also demonstrate heterogeneous integration of LEAP lasers on a SiO2
/Si substrate for low-cost photonic integrated circuits (PICs). The threshold current is 40.5 μA and the output power is 4.4 μW with a bias current of 200 μA. These results indicate the feasibility of using PhC lasers in very-short-distance optical communications.
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