4 ECTS credits
120 h study time

Offer 1 with catalog number 4017678FNR for all students in the 1st semester at a (F) Master - specialised level.

1st semester
Enrollment based on exam contract
Grading method
Grading (scale from 0 to 20)
Can retake in second session
Taught in
Partnership Agreement
Under interuniversity agreement for degree program
Faculteit Ingenieurswetenschappen
Applied Physics and Photonics
Educational team
Guy Verschaffelt (course titular)
Guy Van Der Sande
Geert Morthier
Activities and contact hours
30 contact hours Lecture
18 contact hours Seminar, Exercises or Practicals
Course Content

Introduction: components, description, assumptions, applications.

Models for the dynamical behaviour of semiconductor lasers: longitudinal mode equations, rate equations description, nonlinear material response

Laser diode modulation and noise: small signal modulation, large signal modulation, line width and intensity noise, influence of external reflections, experimental characterization

Non linear laser dynamics: bifurcations, chaos and its characterization

Mode locking and short pulse generation: mode locking theory, Q-switching and self-pulsations, characterization of short pulses

All-optical flip-flops based on DFB lasers or based on ring lasers.

Course material
Digital course material (Required) : High Speed Photonic Components, Syllabus en cursus nota's., Beschikbaar via canvas.vub.be
Handbook (Recommended) : Laser Diode modulation and noise, Petermann, K., Springer, 9780792312048, 1998
Digital course material (Recommended) : Semiconductor lasers, Agrawal, G.P., https://worldbooks.me/browse/semiconductor-lasers/, 9781461304814 
Additional info

Lecturing team: prof. G. Verschaffelt and dr. G. Van der Sande (VUB), Prof. G. Morthier (UGent). Classes will take place alternatively between the Ghent and Brussels campuses. Whenever possible, a video link between both campusses will be used such that students do not have to travel between VUB campus and UGent campus.

Complementary study material:
Petermann, K.; Laser Diode modulation and noise
Agrawal, G.P.; Semiconductor lasers
M. SAN MIGUEL and R. TORAL; STOCHASTIC EFFECTS IN PHYSICAL SYSTEMS, arXiv:cond-mat/9707147v1 14 Jul 1997

Learning Outcomes

Algemene competenties


The primary learning objective is to acquire a thorough understanding of laser diodes and to make the students acquainted with the dynamical behaviour of laser diodes (semiconductor lasers). After the course, students should be able to follow the literature in this field and/or do research themselves.

This course is part of the programme of the Interuniversitary Master in Photonics since 2007.



Being able to use the rate equations for the derivation of large and small signal dynamic behaviour. Being able to simulate the behavior of lasers diodes based based on rate equations.

Being able to derive the different noise characteristics from the rate equations.

Understanding the different methods for the generation of short laser pulses.

Understanding the influence of external reflections on laser diode behaviour.

Being able to apply the basic concepts of non-linear dynamics to laser dynamics.

Understanding the different approaches to obtain all-optical switching.

Acquire sufficient knowledge to perform research in the domain of laser dynamics


This course also contributes to the following competences:

- Knowledge-oriented competence:

Master and apply advanced knowledge in the own field of engineering in case of complex problems.

Apply Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) tools and sophisticated calculation- and communication-instruments in a creative and target-oriented way.

Be acquainted with the recent innovation trends in the domain of photonics, more particularly concerning recent trends in high speed dynamics of semiconductor lasers

Understand non-optical aspects of photonic systems, in particular electronic  and thermal aspects of semiconductor lasers.


- Scientific competence:

Perform research by means of scientific literature.

Understand the context of technical or scientific papers in the field of photonics and further investigate unclear parts independently.


- Intellectual competence:

Be aware of ongoing evolutions in the field of interest, improve competence to expert level.


- Competence in cooperation:

Report on technical or scientific subjects orally, in writing and in graphics.


- Societal competence:

Have an insight in the photonics industry and in the role of photonics in the scientific and technological evolution of society.


- Profession specific competence:

Master the complexity of technical systems by the use of system- and process models.

Dispose of enough knowledge and comprehension to control the results of complex calculations or make approximate estimates.

Use photonic components and systems accurately.



The students are evaluated according to their knowledge of the different competences.


The final grade is composed based on the following categories:
Other Exam determines 50% of the final mark.
SELF Report determines 50% of the final mark.

Within the Other Exam category, the following assignments need to be completed:

  • examen with a relative weight of 1 which comprises 50% of the final mark.

    Note: schriftelijk examen (problem solving), aangevuld met mondelinge ondervraging (theorie);
    Evaluation of work during the year (1 paper, 1 lab exercise and 1 computer exercise) by means of graded project reports.

Within the SELF Report category, the following assignments need to be completed:

  • rapport with a relative weight of 1 which comprises 50% of the final mark.

    Note: Beoordeling van schriftelijk verslag over het werk tijdens het jaar(1 paper, 1 practicum en 1 computer oefening)

Additional info regarding evaluation

Written exam (problem solving), followed by oral exam (theory).
Evaluation of work  during the year (1 paper and 1 computer exercise) by means of graded project reports.

Allowed unsatisfactory mark
The supplementary Teaching and Examination Regulations of your faculty stipulate whether an allowed unsatisfactory mark for this programme unit is permitted.

Academic context

This offer is part of the following study plans:
Master of Photonics Engineering: Standaard traject (only offered in Dutch)
Master of Photonics Engineering: On campus traject
Master of Photonics Engineering: Online/Digital traject