Skip to Main Content
Using proton bombarded stripe geometry lasers which emit intense optical pulses, we have measured the width of the optical beam in the plane of the junction as a function of time during the pulse. The width of the beam is qualitatively proportional to the change in the carrier density. The width increases during the quiescent period between pulses where the carrier density increases by current injection and decreases during the emission of the pulse. For one laser studied in considerable detail, the full width at half intensity decreases from 9 μm at the start of the pulse to 7.2 μm at the end of the pulse. The reduction in the width results from the self-focusing of the beam. It is due to an increase in the refractive index and the decrease in the gain distributions near the center of the stripe. The reduction in the beamwidth concentrates the mode to a region of sufficiently higher average gain to compensate for the reduction in spatial gain distribution. The self-focusing acts to reduce the damping of the relaxation oscillations, and thus enhances the effect of other nonlinearities such as saturable absorption in causing pulsations. The thermal induced refractive index distribution across the stripe is shown to play a crucial role in the gain instability caused by self-focusing.