Dependence of the device performance on the number of stages in quantum-cascade lasers

Claire Gmachl, Federico Capasso, Alessandro Tredicucci, Deborah L. Sivco, Rüdeger Köhler, Albert L. Hutchinson, Alfred Y. Cho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


The cascading scheme is a characteristic feature of quantum cascade (QC) lasers. It implies that electrons above threshold generate one photon per active region they successively traverse. This paper presents a study of the cascading behavior as a function of the number N of stacked active regions. Experimental results are presented for devices with N = 1, 3, 6, 12, 20, 30, 45, 60, and 75 active stages. The highest optical power and lowest threshold current density are obtained for laser devices with N as high as possible. However, the lowest threshold voltage and the lowest dissipated power at laser threshold are achieved for N = 3 and N = 22, respectively. We further present the highest power QC lasers so far, which, using N = 75 stages, show in pulsed mode peak powers of 1.4, 1.1, and 0.54 W at 50 K, 200 K, and room temperature, respectively. Finally, we also demonstrate the first few-stage (N < 10) QC lasers. These QC lasers show strongly reduced operating voltages. A threshold voltage around 1.5 V is achieved for N = 3. This makes the lasers very well compliant with conventional laser diode drivers, which in turn will simplify their immediate use in systems and applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)808-816
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Journal on Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1999
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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