Interband cascade lasers

I. Vurgaftman*, R. Weih, M. Kamp, J. R. Meyer, C. L. Canedy, C. S. Kim, M. Kim, W. W. Bewley, C. D. Merritt, J. Abell, S. Hoefling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

186 Citations (Scopus)


We review the current status of interband cascade lasers (ICLs) emitting in the midwave infrared (IR). The ICL may be considered the hybrid of a conventional diode laser that generates photons via electron-hole recombination, and an intersubband-based quantum cascade laser (QCL) that stacks multiple stages for enhanced current efficiency. Following a brief historical overview, we discuss theoretical aspects of the active region and core designs, growth by molecular beam epitaxy, and the processing of broad-area, narrow-ridge, and distributed feedback (DFB) devices. We then review the experimental performance of pulsed broad area ICLs, as well as the continuous-wave (cw) characteristics of narrow ridges having good beam quality and DFBs producing output in a single spectral mode. Because the threshold drive powers are far lower than those of QCLs throughout the lambda = 3-6 mu m spectral band, ICLs are increasingly viewed as the laser of choice for mid-IR laser spectroscopy applications that do not require high output power but need to be hand-portable and/or battery operated. Demonstrated ICL performance characteristics to date include threshold current densities as low as 106 A cm(-2) at room temperature (RT), cw threshold drive powers as low as 29 mW at RT, maximum cw operating temperatures as high as 118 degrees C, maximum cw output powers exceeding 400 mW at RT, maximum cw wallplug efficiencies as high as 18% at RT, maximum cw single-mode output powers as high as 55 mW at RT, and single-mode output at lambda = 5.2 mu m with a cw drive power of only 138 mW at RT.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123001
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Physics D : Applied Physics
Issue number12
Early online date11 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015


  • Mid-infrared lasers
  • Semiconductor lasers
  • Interband cascade lasers
  • MU-M
  • Room-Temperature
  • Low-threshold
  • Quantum-wells
  • INAS/ALSB Superlattices
  • Semiconductor-lasers
  • Midinfrared lasers
  • Infrared-lasers
  • Diode-lasers
  • Power


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