The linewidth enhancement (a-) factor of quantum-dot (QD) semiconductor optical amplifiers in the small signal gain and nonlinear regimes is theoretically investigated. A microscopic polarization equation and a wave equation are used to model subpicosecond pulse propagation in the nonlinear regime. In addition, a population equation that takes into account spectral hole burning and carrier heating effects is used. A novel approach to obtain the a -factor from the output pulse amplitude and phase in the dynamic nonlinear regime is presented. An in-depth study reveals that the presence of excited states (ES) limits the a-factor to values greater than 1 except when the energy separation between the ground state and ES is large. The a-factor dependence on QD inhomogeneous broadening, carrier density, carrier temperature, energy level separation, and input pulse energy is analyzed. We find that these can change the a-factor considerably. In particular, the a-factor increases with increasing input pulse energy and can be greater than 10 for input pulse energies larger than the amplifier's input pulse saturation energy. In the light of our calculations, the optimum device engineering required to obtain a low a-factor is discussed. © 2006 IEEE.
- Linewidth enhancement factor
- Quantum-dot (QD)
- Semiconductor optical amplifier (SOA)