Injection locking and coupling large VCSEL arrays via diffraction in an external cavity

Pflüger, Moritz; Brunner, Daniel; Heuser, Tobias; Lott, James A.; Reitzenstein, Stephan; Fischer, Ingo
Optics Express 31, 8704-8713 (2023)

Networks of semiconductor lasers are the foundation of numerous applications and fundamental investigations in nonlinear dynamics, material processing, lighting, and information processing. However, making the usually narrowband semiconductor lasers within the network interact requires both high spectral homogeneity and a fitting coupling concept. Here, we report how we use diffractive optics in an external cavity to experimentally couple vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) in a 5×5 array. Out of the 25 lasers, we succeed to spectrally align 22, all of which we lock simultaneously to an external drive laser. Furthermore, we show the considerable coupling interactions between the lasers of the array. In summary, we present the largest network of optically coupled semiconductor lasers reported so far and the first detailed characterization of such a diffractively coupled system. Due to the high homogeneity of the lasers, the strong interaction between them, and the scalability of the coupling approach, our VCSEL network is a promising platform for experimental investigations of complex systems, and it has direct applications as a photonic neural network.

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