III-nitride Photonic Integrated Circuit: Multi-section GaN Laser Diodes for Smart Lighting and Visible Light Communication

  • Chao Shen

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The past decade witnessed the rapid development of III-nitride light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and laser diodes (LDs), for smart lighting, visible-light communication (VLC), optical storage, and internet-of-things. Recent studies suggested that the GaN-based LDs, which is free from efficiency droop, outperform LEDs as a viable high-power light source. Conventionally, the InGaN-based LDs are grown on polar, c-plane GaN substrates. However, a relatively low differential gain limited the device performance due to a significant polarization field in the active region. Therefore, the LDs grown on nonpolar m-plane and semipolar (2021)-plane GaN substrates are posed to deliver high-efficiency owing to the entirely or partially eliminated polarization field. To date, the smart lighting and VLC functionalities have been demonstrated based on discrete devices, such as LDs, transverse-transmission modulators, and waveguide photodetectors. The integration of III-nitride photonic components, including the light emitter, modulator, absorber, amplifier, and photodetector, towards the realization of III-nitride photonic integrated circuit (PIC) offers the advantages of small-footprint, high-speed, and low power consumption, which has yet to be investigated. This dissertation presents the design, fabrication, and characterization of the multi-section InGaN laser diodes with integrated functionalities on semipolar (2021)-plane GaN substrates for enabling such photonic integration. The blue-emitting integrated waveguide modulator-laser diode (IWM-LD) exhibits a high modulation efficiency of 2.68 dB/V. A large extinction ratio of 11.3 dB is measured in the violet-emitting IWM-LD. Utilizing an integrated absorber, a high optical power (250mW), droop-free, speckle-free, and large modulation bandwidth (560MHz) blue-emitting superluminescent diode is reported. An integrated short-wavelength semiconductor optical amplifier with the laser diode at ~404 nm is demonstrated with a large gain of 5.32 dB at 6 V. A high-performance waveguide photodetector integrated LD at 405 nm sharing the single active region is presented, showing a significant large modulation bandwidth of 230 MHz. Thus these seamlessly integrated elements enable photonic IC at the visible wavelength for many important applications, such as smart lighting and display, optical communication, switching, clocking, and interconnect. The findings are therefore significant in developing an energy-saving platform technology that powers up human activities in a safe, health- and environmental-friendly manner.
Date of AwardApr 2017
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorBoon Ooi (Supervisor)


  • Laser diode
  • Semiconductor Laser
  • GaN
  • solid state lighting
  • Visible light communication
  • Photonic integrated circuit

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