IEEE Journal on Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics

Polarization-dependent optical nonlinearities of multiquantum-well laser amplifiers studied by four-wave mixing

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We present a detailed study of the polarization properties of four-wave mixing in multiquantum-well (MQW) semiconductor optical amplifiers (SOA's). In particular, the polarization selection rules relevant to all processes contributing to the generation of the four-wave mixing signal are rigorously derived and discussed. We then show the importance of these results in applications where four-wave mixing is used as a spectroscopic tool to study the optical nonlinearities of semiconductor gain media. For illustration, we demonstrate two novel applications of polarization-resolved four-wave mixing. The first is a new technique for measuring the recombination lifetime in SOA's, based on mixing of a pump wave with polarized amplified spontaneous emission noise. In the second, we use the same polarization selection rules to measure the interwell transport lifetime in alternating-strain MQW amplifiers. Finally, we also discuss the possibility of studying the dynamics of the optically induced phase coherence between spin-degenerate states.