Research Article

Suppressing spatiotemporal lasing instabilities with wave-chaotic microcavities

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Science  21 Sep 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6408, pp. 1225-1231
DOI: 10.1126/science.aas9437

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Taming laser instabilities

Broad-area and high-power lasers often suffer from instabilities owing to the chaotic interference of multiple modes within the cavity. Such instabilities can ultimately limit the operation of the laser or damage the cavity. The usual approach to minimizing such instabilities is to limit the number of modes in the cavity. Bittner et al. designed a chaotic cavity that disrupts the formation of self-organized structures that lead to instabilities (see the Perspective by Yang). This approach of fighting chaos with chaos by using the boundary condition of the cavity shape may provide a robust route to stabilizing lasers at high operating powers.

Science, this issue p. 1225; see also p. 1201


Spatiotemporal instabilities are widespread phenomena resulting from complexity and nonlinearity. In broad-area edge-emitting semiconductor lasers, the nonlinear interactions of multiple spatial modes with the active medium can result in filamentation and spatiotemporal chaos. These instabilities degrade the laser performance and are extremely challenging to control. We demonstrate a powerful approach to suppress spatiotemporal instabilities using wave-chaotic or disordered cavities. The interference of many propagating waves with random phases in such cavities disrupts the formation of self-organized structures such as filaments, resulting in stable lasing dynamics. Our method provides a general and robust scheme to prevent the formation and growth of nonlinear instabilities for a large variety of high-power lasers.

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