Entraining power-dropout events in an external-cavity semiconductor laser using weak modulation of the injection current
We measure experimentally the effects of injection current modulation on the statistical distribution of time intervals between power-dropout events occurring in an external-cavity semiconductor laser operating in the low-frequency fluctuation regime. These statistical distributions are sensitive indicators of the presence of pump current modulation. Under most circumstances, we find that weak low-frequency (in the vicinity of 19 MHz) modulation of the current causes the dropouts to occur preferentially at intervals that are integral multiples of the modulation period. The dropout events can be entrained by the periodic perturbations when the modulation amplitude is large (peak-to-peak amplitude≥8% of the dc injection current). We conjecture that modulation induces a dropout when the modulation frequency is equal to the difference in frequency between a mode of the extended cavity laser and its adjacent antimode. We also find that the statistical distribution of the dropout events is unaffected by the periodic perturbations when the modulation frequency is equal to the free spectral range of the external cavity. Numerical simulations of the extended-cavity laser display qualitatively similar behavior. The relationship of these phenomena to stochastic resonance is discussed and a possible use of the modulated laser dynamics for chaos communication is described.