Optimization of Optical Nonlinearities in Quantum Cascade Lasers
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Nonlinearities in quantum cascade lasers (QCL¡¯s) have wide applications in wavelength tunability and ultra-short pulse generation. In this thesis, optical nonlinearities in InGaAs/AlInAs-based mid-infrared (MIR) QCL¡¯s with quadruple resonant levels are investigated. Design optimization for the second-harmonic generation (SHG) of the device is presented. Performance characteristics associated with the third-order nonlinearities are also analyzed. The design optimization for SHG efficiency is obtained utilizing techniques from supersymmetric quantum mechanics (SUSYQM) with both material-dependent effective mass and band nonparabolicity. Current flow and power output of the structure are analyzed by self-consistently solving rate equations for the carriers and photons. Nonunity pumping efficiency from one period of the QCL to the next is taken into account by including all relevant electron-electron (e-e) and longitudinal (LO) phonon scattering mechanisms between the injector/collector and active regions. Two-photon absorption processes are analyzed for the resonant cascading triple levels designed for enhancing SHG. Both sequential and simultaneous two-photon absorption processes are included in the rate-equation model. The current output characteristics for both the original and optimized structures are analyzed and compared. Stronger resonant tunneling in the optimized structure is manifested by enhanced negative differential resistance. Current-dependent linear optical output power is derived based on the steady-state photon populations in the active region. The second-harmonic (SH) power is derived from the Maxwell equations with the phase mismatch included. Due to stronger coupling between lasing levels, the optimized structure has both higher linear and nonlinear output powers. Phase mismatch effects are significant for both structures leading to a substantial reduction of the linear-to-nonlinear conversion efficiency. The optimized structure can be fabricated through digitally grading the submonolayer alloys by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE). In addition to the second-order nonlinearity, performance characteristics brought by the third-order nonlinearities are also discussed, which include third-harmonic generation (THG) and intensity dependent (Kerr) refractive index. Linear to third-harmonic (TH) conversion efficiency is evaluated based on the phase-mismatched condition. The enhanced self-mode-locking (SML) effect over a typical three-level laser is predicted, which will stimulate further investigations of pulse duration shortening by structures with multiple harmonic levels.