From a recent study of the growth and optical properties of quantum dots (QD's), we demonstrated that artificial atoms with sharp electronic shells can be fabricated with good control, using self-assembled QD's grown by molecular beam epitaxy. Size and shape engineering of the QD's during growth permits the tailoring of their intersublevel energy spacings. We demonstrate a much improved uniformity of the macroscopic ensembles of QD's, with well-resolved electronic shells. In addition to size and shape engineering of the QDS's in the case of single-layer samples, we demonstrate significant improvements in the uniformity of the vertically self-aligned stacked QD's. State-filling spectroscopy of the zero-dimensional transitions between confined electrons and holes demonstrates that the energy levels are readily tunable. One to five confined levels, with an inter-level energy spacing between 25 and 90 meV, are obtained by adjusting the growth temperature or with post-growth annealings. Such QD's having well-defined excited-states have been grown in the active region of devices and results will be presented for lasers, detectors, or for structures displaying optical memory effects. For example, QD laser diodes with well-defined electronic shells are fabricated, and shape-engineered stacks of self-aligned QD's are used to increase the gain in the active region. Lasing is observed in the upper QD shells for small gain media, and progresses towards the QD ground states for longer cavity lengths. We obtained at 77K thresholds for Jth=15 A/cm2 for a 2 mm cavity lasing in the first excited state (p-shell), and at 300K for a 5 mm cavity, Jth is ~430A/cm2 with lasing in the d-shell. For an increased QD density, Jth is smaller than 100A/cm2 at room temperature. For inter- sublevel transitions, we demonstrated broadband normal incidence detection with responsivity approaching 1A/W at a detection wavelength of 5 microns. For interband detection, the photoluminescence decay time of p-i-n diode can be changed from ~3nsec to ~0.3nsec (3Ghz) with a reverse bias. For Qds capped with less than ~10 nm, remarkable charge transfers between QD and surface states lead to optical memory effects lasting over time-scales of several minutes.