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Thermoelectric cooler improves laser diode reliability

Posted: 21 Jan 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:laser diode  thermoelectric cooler  thin-fil TEC 

Laser diode HV14

Nextreme Thermal Solutions has revealed a method of cooling a laser diode in a TO-8 package using an embedded thin-film thermoelectric OptoCooler HV14 module which improves the output performance and reliability of the laser device.

Laser diodes are susceptible to heat, which can adversely affect their output power and wavelength. Manufacturers have traditionally used thermoelectric coolers for temperature control. However, as the photonics industry has moved to smaller, more integrated packaging in order to reduce costs, conventional thermoelectric coolers (TECs) have not kept pace with these size and heat requirements. Because of this, in some instances designers have chosen to place the cooling device outside the package. Cooling the diode by cooling the entire package is an inefficient method of thermal management.

TECs made from thin-films are smaller and thinner than conventional ones and can be embedded in the smallest of packages. In addition, thin-film TECs have a low mass which enables a more rapid thermal response to changing temperatures.

To illustrate the benefits for cooling a laser with an embedded TEC, Nextreme mounted a laser diode on the active side of an OptoCooler HV14 TEC in a TO-8 package. At 85°C, the OptoCooler HV14 module can pump 1.7W of heat in a footprint of less than 3mm². The TEC can create a temperature differential of up to 50°C between its hot and cold sides. As a part of the demonstration, a test bed was assembled to measure the effects of cooling on laser output and wavelength. When the TEC was turned on, the temperature of the diode quickly dropped from 42°C to approximately 21°C in milliseconds and the output level of the laser nearly doubled from 0.38mW to 0.74mW at a drive current of 100mA. An optical spectrum analyser measured a wavelength shift towards the blue spectrum of approximately 13.6nm.

"Embedded thermoelectric coolers from Nextreme enable smaller and more cost-effective packages," said Paul A. Magill, VP of marketing and business development for Nextreme. "The small footprint, high heat pumping capabilities and super-fast response time of our eTEC coolers enable precise temperature control of lasers, which leads to higher output power and greater wavelength stability."

The OptoCooler HV14 is RoHS-compliant and is available for order now and pricing is available on request.

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