Catastrophic loss of mode discrimination in coupled cavity systems

David Perkins, Paul S. Spencer, Iestyn Pierce, Paul Rees

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Semiconductor lasers subject to optical feedback are of both scientific and technological importance. The laser and external mirror form a compound cavity which can be modeled using a coupled cavity approach. 1,2 Using this approach we have calculated the longitudinal mode frequencies and the associated mode lifetimes of all the modes in the system. We have found that for a narrow range of external cavity reflectivities, the mode lifetimes become almost degenerate. In this regime the mode lifetimes become highly sensitive to variations in the refractive index of the laser and external cavity reflectivities. Close inspection of this regime has revealed ever finer detail, suggesting a fractal structure to the mode solutions. The calculations have been undertaken in the 'cold cavity' limit and indicate a catastrophic loss of mode discrimination, even in a system with no inherent material gain. In the short cavity limit the external reflectivity required to induce the loss of mode discrimination varies as a function of external cavity round-trip time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-251
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - Sep 13 2004
EventFluctuations and Noise in Photonics and Quantum Optics II - Maspalomas
Duration: May 26 2004May 28 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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