A highly reliable, very low-phase and low-amplitude-noise laser is required as an oscillator for the LISA mission. A commercial product made by Redfern Integrated Optics met these requirements (1550 nm PLANEX External Cavity Laser), but it operated at 1.5 microns, not the required LISA wavelength of 1 micron. An ultra-low-noise External Cavity Laser was produced at a wavelength of 1 micron, and was integrated in a butterfly package. The goal is to eventually use this laser in the LISA and GRACE-II missions.

PLANEX (Planar External Cavity Laser) contains a gain chip (GC) and planar lightwave circuit (PLC) with Waveguide Bragg Gratings (WBGs). To enable the wavelength change to 1 micron in the proven high-reliability PLANEX design and packaging technology, a new GC was developed with low-frequency noise and optimized mode profile for high coupling efficiency with the PLC waveguide. A new GC ultra-low-reflectivity coating was developed to suppress the GC cavity. In addition, a new WBG reflector was developed for a wavelength of 1 micron, and a new 1-micron WBG manufacturing process was developed for a short grading period and optimized etch depth.

The new product is the first External Cavity Laser that fits in a butterfly package and operates at 1-micron wavelength. With its low noise performance and 1-micron wavelength, it can eventually be used as the oscillator for the LISA and GRACE-II missions, although some work remains to optimize its design and further lower frequency noise.

Commercial applications include use as a seed laser for high-power fiber lasers (MOPAs) for materials processing and scientific applications.

This work was done by Mazin Alalusi, Georgios Margaritis, and Lew Stolpner of Redfern Integrated Optics, Inc. for Goddard Space Flight Center. NASA is seeking partners to further develop this technology through joint cooperative research and development. For more information about this technology and to explore opportunities, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. GSC-16920-1