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This letter reports studies on highly strained and strain-compensated InGaAs quantum-well (QW) active diode lasers on GaAs substrates, fabricated by low-temperature (550/spl deg/C) metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) growth. Strain compensation of the (compressively strained) InGaAs QW is investigated by using either InGaP (tensile-strained) cladding layer or GaAsP (tensile-strained) barrier layers. High-performance /spl lambda/=1.165 /spl mu/m laser emission is achieved from InGaAs-GaAsP strain-compensated QW laser structures, with threshold current densities of 65 A/cm/sup 2/ for 1500-/spl mu/m-cavity devices and transparency current densities of 50 A/cm/sup 2/. The use of GaAsP-barrier layers are also shown to significantly improve the internal quantum efficiency of the highly strained InGaAs-active laser structure. As a result, external differential quantum efficiencies of 56% are achieved for 500-/spl mu/m-cavity length diode lasers.