Modeling techniques for quantum cascade lasers

Christian Jirauschek, Technical University of Munich
Tillmann Kubis, Purdue University

Date of this Version



This is the publisher PDF of Jirauschek, C and Kubis, T. "Modeling techniques for quantum cascade lasers." Applied Physics Reviews 1, 011307. 2014. Copyright AIP, it is available at


Quantum cascade lasers are unipolar semiconductor lasers covering a wide range of the infrared and terahertz spectrum. Lasing action is achieved by using optical intersubband transitions between quantized states in specifically designed multiple-quantum-well heterostructures. A systematic improvement of quantum cascade lasers with respect to operating temperature, efficiency, and spectral range requires detailed modeling of the underlying physical processes in these structures. Moreover, the quantum cascade laser constitutes a versatile model device for the development and improvement of simulation techniques in nano- and optoelectronics. This review provides a comprehensive survey and discussion of the modeling techniques used for the simulation of quantum cascade lasers. The main focus is on the modeling of carrier transport in the nanostructured gain medium, while the simulation of the optical cavity is covered at a more basic level. Specifically, the transfer matrix and finite difference methods for solving the one-dimensional Schrodinger equation and Schrodinger-Poisson system are discussed, providing the quantized states in the multiple-quantum-well active region. The modeling of the optical cavity is covered with a focus on basic waveguide resonator structures. Furthermore, various carrier transport simulation methods are discussed, ranging from basic empirical approaches to advanced self-consistent techniques. The methods include empirical rate equation and related Maxwell-Bloch equation approaches, self-consistent rate equation and ensemble Monte Carlo methods, as well as quantum transport approaches, in particular the density matrix and non-equilibrium Green's function formalism. The derived scattering rates and self-energies are generally valid for n-type devices based on one-dimensional quantum confinement, such as quantum well structures. (C) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC.


Nanoscience and Nanotechnology