Ultrafast Rabi flopping and coherent pulse propagation in a quantum cascade laser

Hyunyong Choi, Vasileios Marios Gkortsas, Laurent Diehl, David Bour, Scott Corzine, Jintian Zhu, Gloria Höfler, Federico Capasso, Franz X. Kärtner, Theodore B. Norris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Pulse propagation phenomena are central to ultrashort pulse generation and amplification in lasers1-5. In the coherent regime, the phase relationship between the pulse and the material transition is preserved, allowing both optical fields and material states to be controlled6. The most prominent form of coherent manipulation is Rabi flopping7, a phenomenon well established in few-level absorbers, including atoms and single quantum dots8-19. However, Rabi flopping is generally much weaker in semiconductors because of strong dephasing in the electronic bands, in contrast to discrete-level systems. Although low-density induced coherent oscillations have been observed in semiconductor absorbers11,13-20, coherent pulse propagation phenomena in active semiconductor devices have not been observed. In this Letter, we explore coherent pulse propagation in an operating quantum cascade laser and directly observe Rabi flopping and coherent pulse reshaping. This work demonstrates the applicability of few-level models for quantum cascade lasers and may stimulate novel approaches to short pulse generation 21,22.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)706-710
Number of pages5
JournalNature Photonics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Oct

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Studies at the University of Michigan and MIT were supported by US Army Research Office. The authors acknowledge support from the Center for Nanoscale System (CNS) at Harvard University (Harvard–CNS is a member of the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network, NNIN). The Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NERC) at Harvard University, funded by the National Science Foundation, is also gratefully acknowledged.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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