Vertical-cavity semiconductor optical amplifiers (VCSOAs) as optical sensing elements

Gonzalez-Marcos, A. P. and Hurtado, A. and Martin-Pereda, J. A. (2005) Vertical-cavity semiconductor optical amplifiers (VCSOAs) as optical sensing elements. Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering, 5840. pp. 262-271. ISSN 0277-786X

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Abstract

Semiconductor Optical Amplifiers (SOAs) have mainly found application in optical telecommunication networks for optical signal regeneration, wavelength switching or wavelength conversion. The objective of this paper is to report the use of semiconductor optical amplifiers for optical sensing taking into account their optical bistable properties. As it was previously reported, some semiconductor optical amplifiers, including Fabry-Perot and Distributed-Feedback Semiconductor Optical Amplifiers (FPSOAs and DFBSOAs), may exhibit optical bistability. The characteristics of the attained optical bistability in this kind of devices are strongly dependent on different parameters including wavelength, temperature or applied bias current and small variations lead to a change on their bistable properties. As in previous analyses for Fabry-Perot and DFB SOAs, the variations of these parameters and their possible application for optical sensing are reported in this paper for the case of the Vertical-Cavity Semiconductor Optical Amplifier (VCSOA). When using a VCSOA, the input power needed for the appearance of optical bistability is one order of magnitude lower than that needed in edge-emitting devices. This feature, added to the low manufacturing costs of VCSOAs and the ease to integrate them in 2-D arrays, makes the VCSOA a very promising device for its potential use in optical sensing applications.