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A new method of cooling a GaAs/GaAlAs laser in an optical integrated circuit or on a discrete chip, by adding an integral thermoelectric (Peltier) cooling and heat spreading device to the laser, is presented. This cooling both reduces and stabilizes the laser junction temperature to minimize such deleterious effects as wavelength drift due to heating. A unified description of the electrical and thermal properties of a monolithic semiconductor mesa structure is given, Here it is shown that an improvement in thermal characteristics is obtained by depositing a relatively thick metallic layer, and by using this layer as a part of an active Peltier structure. Experimental results reveal a 14-percent increase in emitted power (external quantum efficiency) due to passive heat spreading and a further 8-percent if its Peltier cooler is operated. Fabrication techniques used to obtain devices exhibiting the above performance characteristics are given.