Tunnel junction laser diodes promise highly efficient and powerful sources for AM and welding

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Australian semiconductor developer BluGlass has demonstrated working tunnel junction laser diodes in what it says is a world-first proof-of-concept.

The novel laser diode prototypes leverage BluGlass’ remote plasma chemical vapour deposition (RPCVD) technology and could enable higher power and more efficient lasers for use in commercial applications such as additive manufacturing and welding.

‘This milestone helps confirm the potential of the RPCVD laser diode designs to address the critical performance requirements for high value gallium nitride (GaN) laser diode applications,’ BluGlass said in its announcement.

According to the firm, GaN laser diode applications in the industry are currently limited by optical and resistive loss in the magnesium-containing layers (the p-type layers) which leads to low conversion efficiencies, typically in the 40-45 per cent range compared to the close to 90 per cent in GaN-based LEDs. Almost 50 per cent of the power consumed when operating GaN laser diodes is lost in the form of heat due to the highly resistive p-type layers, traditionally needed to create the electrical circuit in a laser diode

BluGlass’ approach on the other hand, enabled by the unique benefits of low temperature, low hydrogen RPCVD growth, can eliminate the need for these highly resistive and performance losing p-type layers. RPCVD-enabled novel designs replace the p-type cladding layer with an RPCVD tunnel junction and second n-type cladding layer – called a dual n-wave laser diode, paving the way to significantly improve laser diode performance in the future.

The company will continue to optimise its RPCVD tunnel junction laser diode design, epitaxy and fabrication to maximise laser performance.

‘This is an important validation of the potential of our unique RPCVD and tunnel junction technologies,’ said BluGlass executive chair James Walker. ‘This achievement is a testament to the efforts of our leading-edge team in developing a range of innovative laser diode products, including this world-first demonstration of dual-n-wave lasers. This has the potential to transform how laser diodes are made to help bring GaN lasers into a new era.'

However, these novel lasers still need to be developed significantly before future RPCVD-enhanced products can be launched, Walker concluded.

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