The concept of tunneling injection was introduced in the 1990’s to improve the dynamical properties of semiconductor lasers by avoiding the problem of hot carrier injection which increase the gain nonlinearity and hence limit the modulation capabilities. Indeed, tunneling injection led to record modulation speeds in quantum well lasers. Employing tunneling injection in quantum dot lasers is significantly more complicated. Tunneling injection is based on an energy band alignment between a carrier reservoir and the active region where laser oscillation takes place. However, the inherent inhomogeneity of self-assembled quantum dots prevents an unequivocal band alignment and can cause the tunneling injection process to actually deteriorate the laser performance compared to nominally identical quantum dot lasers that have no tunneling section. Understanding the complex process of tunneling injection in quantum dot lasers requires a comprehensive study where different aspects are analyzed theoretically and experimentally. In this paper we describe the technology of such lasers in the InP material system followed by a microscopic analysis of the detailed electrical characterization which is correlated to the electro-optic properties yields information about the exact carrier transport mechanism at bias levels of almost zero to well above threshold. A tunneling injection quantum dot optical amplifier was used for multi wavelength pump probe characterization from which it is clear why tunneling injection often deteriorates laser performance and determines how to design a structure which can take advantage of tunneling injection. Finally, we present a direct comparison between the modulation response of a tunneling injection quantum dot laser and a twin structure that has no tunneling injection section.
The broad study sheds light on the fundamental tunneling injection process that can guide the design of an optimum laser where tunneling injection will be taken full advantage of and will improve the dynamical properties.