Novel semiconductor laser structures for Polish companies

Lodz University of Technology (LUT) cooperates with two Polish manufacturers of advanced photonic devices: TopGaN sp. z o. o. and VIGO System SA. The portfolios of the two companies include semiconductor lasers simulated and designed at Lodz University of Technology. Additionally, the parameters of lasers fabricated by Vigo Systems are measured at Lodz University of Technology.

TopGaN is one of the few companies in the world (and the only one in Poland) that produce diode lasers based on gallium nitride. Lasers fabricated by TopGan can emit ultraviolet, violet, or blue radiation. Such lasers are used, for example, in atomic clocks, biochemic sensors, and doppler coolers.

TopGaN sells lasers designed at LUT to large companies, mainly in the USA but also in Europe and Asia. The names of the customers and the values of the contracts are confidential and cannot be disclosed. However, TopGaN confirms that the products are a significant source of revenue for the company.

The second company, Vigo System, is a company listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, specializing in the manufacture of materials and devices used in photonics and microelectronics. Vigo System is the world leader for uncooled mid-infrared detectors. The lasers offered by Vigo System were designed at Lodz University of Technology and their parameters are measured at Lodz University of Technology.

In June 2021, the management of Vigo System decided to include the development of semiconductor laser technology [3] in their company strategy for 2021–2026. In 2019, the company began working with Lodz University of Technology, among others, on vertical-cavity surface-mitting lasers (VCSELs) and quantum-cascade lasers (QCLs) as part of a Polish grant “Path for Mazowsze”. This is an ongoing project, but VCSELs created as part of the project, emitting at 850 nm, are already in the company’s portfolio, and are the very first VCSELs made in Poland. The structure of the VCSEL was designed by scientists at Lodz University of Technology. Such lasers are widely used in various sensors, for example in mobile devices.

Vigo Systems has declared further development and production of VCSELs and VCSEL matrices to be part of its ongoing strategy. The VCSELs manufactured by Vigo System contain original modifications proposed by scientists from Lodz University of Technology. These modifications concerned both the epitaxial structure and the geometry of the devices. As a result, the VCSELs emit high-power radiation at low threshold currents.

In addition to VCSELs emitting at 850 nm, Lodz University of Technology designed VCSELs for Vigo System emitting at 940 nm for light detection and ranging (LiDAR) systems (used e.g. in autonomous vehicles), and linearly-polarized VCSELs emitting at 794.8 nm for applications in rubidium magnetometers and atomic clocks. Cooperation with Lodz University of Technology has already proved beneficial for the company. The expertise they have gained enabled Vigo System to join an international consortium concentrating on the development and application of VCSEL technology. Vigo System negotiates contracts with large customers from Japan, Spain, Greece, USA, and other countries. Further details are confidential.

Poland is a new and still minor player in the fast-growing photonics market. Partnership with Lodz University of Technology is an important asset, allowing Polish companies to increase their business potential. The role of Lodz University of Technology has been recognised by the Polish Technological Platform on Photonics, which invited Lodz University of Technology to become a member.