Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Engineering Physics

First Advisor

Jeffrey W. Grantham, PhD


The optical switching capabilities of Distributed Bragg Reflector (DBR) structures, including Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VCSELs) are examined. Reflectivity switching is demonstrated using both thermal and carrier generated effects to alter the DBR/VCSEL layers' refractive indices. Optical bistability is demonstrated at room temperature, under CW photopumped excitation. The optical bistability hysteresis is controllable by spectral location of the pump on the stop band edge. In the VCSEL, reflective bistability is also evidenced; additionally, this bistability is accompanied by a bistability in the VCSEL lasing output intensity, spot size, and wavelength. Modeling of the DBR/VCSEL thermally induced bistability was accomplished using an iterative, three dimensional Green's function solution to the laser induced heat equation. The model predicts thermally generated bistability, indicating a wavelength dependence, reflectivity jump, self focusing induced spot size change, and wavelength jump commensurate with the experimental data. Reflectivity switching due to carrier effects is also demonstrated, the DBR and VCSELs exhibiting subpicosecond switching speeds and contrast ratios of 3:1. Carrier heating, two photon absorption, and thermal components of the reflectivity switching capabilities are examined and found to be consistent with measured nonlinear response characteristics for the refractive index in AlGaAs.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number