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Simulation Of Semiconductor Edge-Emitting Lasers

A flow to design and optimize gain elements and lasers on indium phosphide and gallium arsenide.

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By Peter Hallschmid and Dylan McGuire

The demand for photonics technology continues to grow with popular laser applications including semiconductor optical amplifiers (SOAs), Fabry-Perot (FP) devices and distributed feedback (DFB) lasers.

The next episode of Ansys’ photonics webinar series outlines the latest Ansys Lumerical flows and products for simulating and generating compact models for edge-emitting lasers. Ansys extends its efficient and flexible simulation framework, enabling engineers to design and optimize a wide range of gain elements and lasers on indium phosphide (InP) and gallium arsenide (GaAs).

Lumerical’s core laser solver is the traveling wave laser model (TWLM) element in INTERCONNECT. TWLM captures the interaction between propagating light and an active gain layer in a waveguide.

Bundled with Lumerical Multiphysics, the multi-quantum well (MQW) solver simulates quantum mechanical behavior in atomically thin semiconductor layers. This enables engineers to determine band structure, gain and spontaneous emission in multi-quantum well structures for lasers and SOAs. MQW provides the material gain to TWLM.

MQW is well-suited for calculating stimulated and spontaneous emission spectra in common III-V semiconductors and their alloys. In concert with the finite difference eigenmode (FDE) and finite element eigenmode (FEEM) calculations, the combination of TWLM and MQW gain solver help build a complete physical picture of the laser.

As part of an integrated laser solution, other Lumerical tools can be used to model passive optical components such as gratings, tapers and power splitters using the finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) and eigenmode expansion (EME) solvers. Further active optical components, such as electrical and thermal phase tuning elements and photodetectors can be solved using the CHARGE and HEAT solvers. This combination makes the laser simulation tools a perfect choice for managing demanding integrated laser designs in InP and silicon-hybrid systems for integrated photonics.


A variety of laser topologies can be modeled and simulated with the traveling wave laser model (TWLM) in Ansys Lumerical INTERCONNECT including FP, distributed Bragg reflector (DBR) laser, DFB, SOA and more.

Building compact models for lasers

A key step in the transition of photonics from research to commercial production is the delivery of photonic foundry technology to customers through photonic process design kits (PDKs). This helps ensure that the resultant design can be successfully manufactured at that foundry.

A leader in the development of commercially available photonic PDKs, Lumerical continues to innovate with the introduction of laser components. A complete parameter extraction workflow enables designers to incorporate MQW waveguides into sophisticated compact models for a wide variety of gain and laser designs targeted to InP/indium gallium arsenide phosphide (InGaAsP) and GaAs/InGaAs technologies.

Ansys currently works with leading research foundry Fraunhofer HHI to simplify and accelerate the integration of light sources into integrated photonics design. For a detailed description and demo of Lumerical’s laser offering, check out this webinar: Focus on Lasers: Simulating Semiconductor Edge-Emitting Lasers.

Dylan McGuire is an R&D manager at Ansys. He received his Master’s from the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department at the University of British Columbia. He was also a Ph.D. Candidate in the department of physics at McGill University before joining Ansys Lumerical. McGuire also served as a R&D scientist and lead engineer responsible for the development of finite element charge and heat transport solvers. He has over a decade of experience in the design and implementation of numerical algorithms for the physical simulation of optoelectronic devices and systems and has contributed to numerous publications.



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