Multiple-quantum-well (MQW) optical modulators are attractive for potential optical interconnection, switching, and computing applications. These modulators are compatible with semiconductor microfabrication techniques, permitting the realization of large numbers of compact (~10 μm), efficient (~pJ energies), normal-incidence devices.1,2 As passive devices, they require an external optical power source, and because modulation is available only in a restricted range centered about the exciton resonance, the wavelength of the source is also important. Furthermore, typical applications could easily require ~1 W of tightly focusable optical power,3 which places severe demands on the power source, not presently satisfied by semiconductor laser diodes. Because MQW devices (based in GaAs/AlxGa1−xAs) rely on diode sources, present demonstration systems cannot fully perform now; this situation is likely to degrade as systems requirements become more stringent.4 Recent advances in diode-pumping have made solid-state laser media such as Neodymium-doped:Yttrium Aluminum Garnet (Nd:YAG) and Yttrium Lithium Fluoride (Nd:YLF) efficient and reliable sources of coherent radiation. Furthermore, high-energy, mode-locked pulses can be obtained at high-repetition rates with solid-state lasers.5,6

© 1991 Optical Society of America

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