On-chip quantum light sources can be electrically controlled find researchers

Technology News |
By Rich Pell

In their experiment, the researchers used the light emitted by an electrically excited driving LED to excite quantum dots in the neighboring diode. They were able to tune the wavelength of the quantum dot emission from the neighboring driven diode via the quantum confined Stark effect.

The idea here is to generate on-demand entangled photon pairs for quantum computing applications, through an on-chip in-plane excitation structure that could readily be integrated into semiconductor devices and photonic cavities.

In their paper, the researchers demonstrated a method of producing electrically triggered anti-bunched light from an electrically tunable source. To do so, they designed 16 individually tunable diode structures on a single chip. The devices consisted of 180×210μm planar microcavity LEDs containing a layer of InAs quantum dots embedded in a 10nm GaAs quantum well with Al0.75Ga0.25As barriers.

Multiple Distributed Bragg Reflectors (DBRs) grown above and below the InAs quantum dot layer and quantum well were used to form a half-wavelength cavity to increase the portion of QD light emitted vertically while acting as a horizontal waveguide for optical emission from the InAs wetting layer. A diode structure suitable for electrical excitation was formed out of the top DBR and the bottom DBR, doped p-type and n-type, respectively.

“The key idea”, they wrote, “is to use light produced by one LED to excite the QDs in the neighboring diode.” One LED is ran in forward bias, whose broadband light emission from the InAs wetting layer is guided horizontally by the Bragg reflectors above and below the wetting layer. As the neighboring LED is hit by a portion of the emitted light, part of that light is absorbed by the wetting layer, generating excitons which can then be captured by the quantum dots in that neighboring diode, resulting in quantum light emission.

The devices have a p-doped region (red), an intrinsic region (clear), and an n-doped region (blue). A LED driven strongly in forward bias (left) emits light (shown as a blue beam), which excites quantum dots in a neighboring device (right). The quantum dots emit anti-bunched light (green).

Because the cavity mode of the planar microcavity matches the emission wavelength of the neighboring quantum dots, this increases the proportion of QD emission directed upwards into the collection optics. By varying the bias across the second diode, one can tune the wavelength by Stark shifting the transitions and the intensity of light emission from the neighboring diode can be controlled by varying the voltage across the first diode

The researchers also demonstrated that they could tune the fine structure splitting of an exciton in the second diode as a function of the electric field across it, making it possible to use such devices as sources of entangled photon pairs.

Light emitted from the wetting layer of the first diode (1) is absorbed by the wetting layer of the neighboring diode, generating charge carriers in that diode (2). These charge carriers can be captured by quantum dots, resulting in quantum light emission. The wetting layer emission (left) and the quantum dot emission (right) are real data, and the wetting layer absorption shown is a duplicate of the emission data and is included solely to show the principle of operation of the device.

In future work, the researchers hope to improve the efficiency of the device, imparting more emission directionality from one to the next diode, possibly using a unidirectional antenna or a waveguide between the LEDs to increase the cross-coupling efficiency. In principle, one driving LED could excite many tunable LEDs.

Combined with fast electronics and low RC constant devices, they may be able emit entangled photons “on-demand”, by either varying the bias to diode 1 to modulate the “pump” or by varying the bias to diode 2 to modulate the wavelength.

For more, see “Electrically driven and electrically tunable quantum light sources. (PDF)”

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