The use of fundamental modelocking to generate short terahertz (THz) pulses and THz frequency combs from semiconductor lasers has become a routine affair, using quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) as a gain medium. However, unlike classic laser diodes, no demonstrations of harmonic modelocking, active or passive, have been shown in THz QCLs, where multiple pulses per round trip are generated when the laser is modulated at the harmonics of the cavity’s fundamental round-trip frequency. Here, using time-resolved THz techniques, we show for the first time harmonic injection and mode-locking in which THz QCLs are modulated at the harmonics of the round-trip frequency. We demonstrate the generation of the harmonic electrical beatnote within a QCL, its injection locking to an active modulation and its direct translation to harmonic pulse generation using the unique ultrafast nature of our approach. Finally, we show indications of self-starting harmonic emission, i.e., without external modulation, where the QCL operates exclusively on a harmonic (up to its 15th harmonic) of the round-trip frequency. This behaviour is supported by time-resolved simulations of induced gain and loss in the system and shows the importance of the electronic, as well as photonic, nature of QCLs. These results open up the prospect of passive harmonic modelocking and THz pulse generation, as well as the generation of low-noise microwave generation in the hundreds of GHz region.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics