Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Electrical, Computer and Telecommunications Engineering


As one of the most widely used light sources today, semiconductor lasers (SLs) are an important part of many optical systems, especially for sensing, communications, metrology, and storage applications. SLs have the advantages of small size, easy integration, and miniaturization. The massification of electronic devices has furthered this agenda, allowing the creation of portable systems capable of supporting optical sensing systems. Essentially, SLs are inherently nonlinear devices, in nonlinear systems, the folding and stretching behaviors of variables result in di↵erent dynamical routes. It is worth noting that under the conditions of a stable operation, an SL biased by constant current usually emits laser light with a constant intensity. However, with the introduction of external optical feedback (OF), the laser light can become unstable. SL will undergo from steady state, switching status, to period-one (P1) oscillation by crossing Hopf-bifurcation. In the P1 state, the system produces a modulation of the laser optical output power for the generation of microwave photonics (MWP) signals. In this thesis, we operate SL with OF scheme in P1 dynamics, and found that the proposed system has the great capability to achieve both displacement and absolute distance sensing applications with high resolution and wide measurement range, by using time-frequency information, relaxation oscillation information, and nonlinear dynamic characteristics carried in that SLs emit signals. The contributions of each chapter in this thesis are described in the following:

In Chapter 3, we propose an SL with OF set at the P1 dynamics to generate the MWP signal for displacement sensing. Di↵erent from the traditional MWP generation method, the designed laser nonlinear dynamics are used by slightly perturbing the SL source with the help of external feedback light to make the system work in the P1 dynamic state, thereby generating regular microwave oscillation. By using the fourth-order Runge-Kutta method to numerically solve the famous Lang-Kobayashi differential equation, the boundary of di↵erent laser dynamic states is delimited, so that the system can generate stable and sustainable MWP signals in P1 dynamics. A set of parameter selection rules for designing an SL based MWP displacement sensing system is obtained. In addition, a measurement algorithm for recovering the displacement from an MWP sensing signal is developed. By making full use of the sensing information carried in both amplitude and frequency of the MWP signal, displacement sensing with high resolution and high sensitivity can be achieved. Both simulations and experiments are conducted to verify the proposed method and show it is capable of realizing high measurement sensitivity, and high resolution for displacement sensing.

In Chapter 4, utilizing the rich nonlinear dynamics of an SL with OF, under the proper controllable system parameters, the system enters the P1 dynamics through Hopf-bifurcation. In the P1 state, the detailed relationship between the relaxation oscillation frequency of MWP signals and external cavity length is studied through solving the Lang-Kobayashi delayed di↵erential equations. The displacement measurement formula is thus obtained. In addition, the relevant signal processing algorithm is developed by considering mode-hopping, frequency-hopping, and sawtooth-like phenomena that occurred in the relaxation oscillation. The displacement measurement can be enhanced in a wider sensing range by fully using the relaxation oscillation frequency relationship. Verification results in simulation and experiment show that the proposed MWP displacement sensing system based on SL with OF contributes to designing a prototype of a compact displacement sensor with wide measurement range and high resolution.

In Chapter 5, OF induced switching status between two nonlinear dynamic states (stable and P1 states) is observed in the SL with OF system. Without the need for any electronic or optical modulation devices, the laser intensity can be modulated in a square wave form due to the switching via utilizing the inherent SL dynamics near Hopf-bifurcation boundary. The periodicity in the switching enables us to develop a new approach for long-distance sensing compared to other SL with OF based absolute distance measurement systems and lift the relevant restrictions that existed in the systems. Moreover, the impact of system controllable parameters on the duty cycle of the square wave signals generated was investigated as well, aiming to maintain the proposed system robustly operating at the switching status.

FoR codes (2008)

0205 OPTICAL PHYSICS, 020503 Nonlinear Optics and Spectroscopy, 020504 Photonics, Optoelectronics and Optical Communications



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.