High k-space lasing in a dual-wavelength quantum cascade laser

Kale J. Franz, Stefan Menzel, Anthony J. Hoffman, Dan Wasserman, John W. Cockburn, Claire F. Gmachl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The understanding of charge carrier distributions is fundamental to our knowledge of laser systems. In semiconductor lasers, because of the propensity of charge carriers to undergo extremely fast momentum relaxation, they accumulate at band extremathat is, they have a small wavevector close to k0 in direct-gap semiconductors. Conventional understanding suggests that the device-level physics occurs at these band extrema, including population inversion for lasing. This behaviour is universal in diode lasers, interband cascade lasers and quantum cascade lasers. Here, we report on a quantum cascade laser with an energy configuration able to establish local population inversion high in k-space. We observe dual-wavelength emission from two discrete optical transitions. Temperature-dependent performance attributes show that the two transitions are highly coupled; competition for charge carriers is apparent from the anti correlated behaviour. The two optical transitions represent a conventional quantum cascade laser transition at k0 and another laser transition from non-thermal electrons near k3.6×108m1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-54
Number of pages5
JournalNature Photonics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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