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Ultrafast spin-polarized vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers

Gerhardt, Nils C. N.C. and Höpfner, Henning H. and Lindemann, Markus M. and Li, Mingyuan M. and Jähme, Hendrik H. and Ackemann, Thorsten T. and Hofmann, Martin R. M.R. (2013) Ultrafast spin-polarized vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers. In: Spintronics VI. Proceedings of the SPIE, 8813 . SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering..

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Spin-polarized lasers are highly attractive spintronic devices providing characteristics superior to their conventional purely charge-based counterparts. Spin-polarized vertical-cavity surface emitting lasers (spin-VCSELs) promise to offer lower thresholds, enhanced emission intensity, spin amplification, full polarization control, chirp control and ultrafast dynamics. In particular, the ability to control and modulate the polarization state of the laser emission with extraordinarily high frequencies is very attractive for many applications like broadband optical communication and ultrafast optical switches. After briefly reviewing the state of research in this emerging field of spintronics, we present a novel concept for ultrafast spin-VCSELs which has the potential to overcome the conventional speed limitation for directly modulated lasers and to reach modulation frequencies significantly above 100 GHz. The concept is based on the coupled spin-photon dynamics in birefringent micro-cavity lasers. By injecting spin-polarized carriers in the VCSEL, oscillations of the coupled spin-photon system can by induced which lead to oscillations of the polarization state of the laser emission. These oscillations are decoupled from conventional relaxation oscillations of the carrier-photon system and can be much faster than those. Utilizing these polarization oscillations is thus a very promising approach to develop ultrafast spin-VCSELs for high speed optical data communication in the near future.