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Nat Commun. 2011 Dec 13;2:585. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1595.

Rebalancing of internally generated carriers for mid-infrared interband cascade lasers with very low power consumption.

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Optical Sciences Division, Naval Research Laboratory, 4555 Overlook Avenue SW, Washington DC 20375, USA.


The interband cascade laser differs from any other class of semiconductor laser, conventional or cascaded, in that most of the carriers producing population inversion are generated internally, at semimetallic interfaces within each stage of the active region. Here we present simulations demonstrating that all previous interband cascade laser performance has suffered from a significant imbalance of electron and hole densities in the active wells. We further confirm experimentally that correcting this imbalance with relatively heavy n-type doping in the electron injectors substantially reduces the threshold current and power densities relative to all earlier devices. At room temperature, the redesigned devices require nearly two orders of magnitude less input power to operate in continuous-wave mode than the quantum cascade laser. The interband cascade laser is consequently the most attractive option for gas sensing and other spectroscopic applications requiring low output power and minimum heat dissipation at wavelengths extending from 3 μm to beyond 6 μm.

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