20 January 2012 Physics of interband cascade lasers
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Abstract
The interband cascade laser (ICL) is a unique device concept that combines the effective parallel connection of its multiple-quantum-well active regions, interband active transitions, and internal generation of electrons and holes at a semimetallic interface within each stage of the device. The internal generation of carriers becomes effective under bias, and the role of electrical injection is to replenish the carriers consumed by recombination processes. Major strides have been made toward fundamentally understanding the rich and intricate ICL physics, which has in turn led to dramatic improvements in the device performance. In this article, we review the physical principles of the ICL operation and designs of the active region, electron and hole injectors, and optical waveguide. The results for state-of- the-art ICLs spanning the 3-6 μm wavelength range are also briefly reviewed. The cw threshold input powers at room temperature are more than an order of magnitude lower than those for quantum cascade lasers throughout the mid-IR spectral range. This will lengthen battery lifetimes and greatly relax packaging and size/weight requirements for fielded sensing systems.
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I. Vurgaftman, I. Vurgaftman, W. W. Bewley, W. W. Bewley, C. D. Merritt, C. D. Merritt, C. L. Canedy, C. L. Canedy, C. S. Kim, C. S. Kim, J. Abell, J. Abell, J. R. Meyer, J. R. Meyer, M. Kim, M. Kim, "Physics of interband cascade lasers", Proc. SPIE 8268, Quantum Sensing and Nanophotonic Devices IX, 82681F (20 January 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.914577; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.914577
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