Abstract

Catastrophic optical damage (COD) is one of the processes limiting the lifetime of high-power laser diodes. The understanding of this degradation phenomenon is critical to improve the laser power and lifetime for practical applications. In this Letter, we analyze the defect propagation inside the cavity of quantum well (QW) high-power laser diodes presenting COD. For this, we studied the effect of highly localized thermal gradients and degraded regions on the laser field distribution. Finite element method (FEM) simulations are compared to experimental cathodoluminescence (CL) measurements. The presence of micrometric hot spots inside the QW induces the thermal lensing of the laser field. The laser self-focusing inside the cavity eventually generates a new hot spot, and, in a repetitive way, a sequence of hot spots would be created. This would account for the propagation of the dark line defects (DLDs) that are characteristic of this degradation mode.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

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