Quantum cascade lasers based on intra-cavity frequency mixing
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Quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) operate due to population inversion on intersubband in unipolar mutiple-quantum-well (MQW) heterostructure. QCLs are considered one of the most flexible and powerful light semiconductor sources in the mid- and far-infrared (IR) wavelength range, covering most of the critical spectral regions relevant to IR applications. InGaAs/InAlAs/InP QCLs are the only semiconductor lasers capable of continuous wave (CW) operation at room temperature (RT) in the spectral range 3.4-12 micron. This dissertation details the development of RT QCLs based on passive nonlinear coupled-quantum-well structures monolithically integrated into mid-IR QCLs to provide a giant nonlinear response for the pumping frequency. The primary focus of short-wavelength approach in this dissertation is to develop of RT InGaAs/InAlAs/InP QCLs for lamda=2.5-3.7 micron region, based on quasi-phase-matched intracavity second harmonic generation (SHG) associated with intersubband transition. Intersubband optical transition can be engineered by the choice of quantum well and barrier thicknesses to provide the appropriate energy levels, optical dipole matrix elements, and electron scattering rates amongst other parameters. Thus, aside from their linear optical properties, resonant intersubband transitions in coupled QW's can also be designed to produce nonlinear optical medium with giant nonlinear optical susceptibilities. In long-wavelength region, at high temperature, the population inversion is reduced between the upper and lower laser levels due to the longitudinal optical (LO) phonon scattering of thermal carriers in the upper laser state and the thermal backfilling of carriers into the lower laser level from the injector state. This dissertation aims to improve an alternative approach for THz QCL sources based on intra-cavity difference frequency generation (DFG) in dual-wavelength mid-IR QCLs with a passive nonlinear structure, designed for giant optical nonlinearity. Further studies describe that Cerenkov DFG scheme allows for extraction of THz radiation along the whole length of the laser waveguide and provides directional THz emission in 1.2-4.5 THz range. An important requirement for many applications, like chemical sensing and molecular spectroscopy, is single-mode emission. We demonstrate single-mode RT DFG THz QCLs operation in 1-5 THz region by employing devices as integrated dual-period DFB lasers, where efficient solid state RT sources do not exist.