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Quantum Confined Laser DevicesOptical gain and recombination in semiconductors$
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Peter Blood

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199644513

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199644513.001.0001

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Introduction to optical gain

Introduction to optical gain

(p.11) 2 Introduction to optical gain
Quantum Confined Laser Devices

Peter Blood

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides an introduction to optical gain and to the requirements for a semiconductor structure that enables this gain to be translated into laser action. The basis of laser action is the coherent amplification of light by stimulated emission, made possible when the population of states is inverted. Although such a system is far from thermal equilibrium, the energy distributions of carriers in a semiconductor laser are in quasi-equilibrium at room temperature described by Fermi functions. The amplification process is quantified by the gain coefficient and the gain spectrum. The gain is positive when the separation of the quasi-Fermi energies for electrons and holes exceeds the photon energy; the material is transparent where the photon energy is equal to the quasi-Fermi level separation. The chapter ends with the key requirements for a laser diode structure.

Keywords:   stimulated emission, population inversion, gain coefficient, Fermi function, quasi-equilibrium, gain spectra, transparency, laser diode structure

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