Thermal management in high-power laser diodes by waveguide design
Semiconductor edge-emitting laser diodes (LDs) are known for their high efficiencies but face challenges in managing self-heating at high operating currents and output powers. The excessive heat density experienced by LDs can lead to critical temperature levels, resulting in catastrophic optical damage (COD) and device failure. Understanding the root cause of COD is crucial for enhancing their reliability and operating output power. This thesis investigates the self-heating mechanism in LDs and introduces novel waveguide designs for thermal management. Initially, we experimentally analyzed LDs with varying waveguide widths to uncover the cause of their failure mechanism. Narrower waveguide LDs achieved higher output power densities but maintained lower internal and facet temperatures. The thermal simulation results showed that narrower waveguide LDs exhibit improved three-dimensional heat dissipation, reducing internal and facet temperatures. The results clarified the fundamental reasons behind the superior reliability of narrower waveguide LDs. Next, we designed and fabricated LDs with two different types of waveguides for their thermal management. The first design introduced a two-section waveguide, which moved the laser section heating away from the facet by positioning a window section near the output facet that is pumped to transparency. This approach reduced facet temperature below the laser internal temperature and eliminated the catastrophic optical mirror damage (COMD) failure. The second design, a distributed waveguide (DWG), increased the lateral heat-dissipation area with passive sections between the laser sections. This method achieved LD cooling by effectively dissipating self-heating and reducing the facet temperature. These findings provide valuable guidance for thermal management to realize LDs with significantly improved reliability and lifetime.