THz quantum cascade lasers for operation above cryogenic temperatures

M. A. Belkin, K. Vijayraghavan, A. Vizbaras, A. Jiang, F. Demmerle, G. Boehm, R. Meyer, M. C. Amann, A. Matyas, R. Chashmahcharagh, P. Lugli, C. Jirauschek, Z. R. Wasilewski

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


High temperature operation of terahertz (THz) sources based on quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) is discussed. THz QCLs are compact, powerful sources but can only operate at cryogenic temperatures. State-of-the art THz QCLs are made with GaAs/AlGaAs heterostructures and use a single composition of AlGaAs for the barrier material. It was recently shown that multi-composition barriers in the band structure can result in gain > loss at temperature as high as ∼240K. We demonstrate early experimental results that yield QCLs that operate up to 184K - similar to QCLs based on single composition barrier designs. An alternative method of producing room-temperature THz is based on intra-cavity difference-frequency generation (DFG) in mid-infrared (mid-IR) QCLs. Here we report devices with record conversion efficiency. THz DFG QCLs reported previously are highly inefficient since THz radiation produced more than ∼100 μm away from the exit facet is fully absorbed due to high THz losses in the QCL waveguide. Our lasers use a non-collinear Cherenkov DFG scheme to extract THz radiation from the active region. Dual-color mid-IR quantum cascade lasers with integrated giant optical nonlinearity are grown on semi-insulating (S.I.) InP substrates. THz radiation is emitted at an angle into the substrate with respect to the mid-infrared pumps. Since S.I. InP is virtually lossless to THz radiation, this scheme allows for efficient extraction of THz radiation along the whole waveguide length. As a result, our sources demonstrate large mid-infrared-to-THz conversion efficiency. Devices tested at room-temperature produced 18μW peakpower and 75μW/W2 conversion efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNovel In-Plane Semiconductor Lasers XII
StatePublished - 2013
EventNovel In-Plane Semiconductor Lasers XII - San Francisco, CA, United States
Duration: 4 Feb 20137 Feb 2013

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


ConferenceNovel In-Plane Semiconductor Lasers XII
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco, CA


  • Difference frequency generation
  • Terahertz quantum cascade laser
  • Terahertz sources


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