Two photon absorption, quantum well, semiconductors, nonlinear optics


The purpose of this dissertation is to provide a study and possible applications of two-photon absorption (2PA), in direct-gap semiconductors and quantum-well (QW) semiconductor structures. One application uses extremely nondegenerate (END) 2PA, for mid-infrared (mid-IR) detection in uncooled semiconductors. The use of END, where the two photons have very different energies gives strong enhancement comapared to degenerate 2PA. This END-2PA enhanced detection is also applied to mid-IR imaging and light detection and ranging (LIDAR) in uncooled direct-gap photodiodes. A theoretical study of degenerate 2PA (D-2PA) in quantum wells, QWs, is presented, along with a new theory of ND 2PA in QWs is developed. Pulsed mid-IR detection of femtosecond pulses is investigated in two different semiconductor p-i-n photodiodes (GaAs and GaN). With the smaller gap materials having larger ND-2PA, it is observed that they have better sensitivity to mid-IR detection, but unwanted background from D-2PA outweighs this advantage. A comparison of responsivity and signal-to-background ratio for GaAs and GaN in END-2PA based detection is presented. END-2PA enhancement is utilized for CW IR detection in uncooled GaAs and GaN p-i-n photodiodes. The pulsed mid-IR detection experiments are further extended to perform mid-IR imaging in uncooled GaN p-i-n photodetectors. A 3-D automated scanning gated imaging system is developed to obtain 3-D mid-IR images of various objects. The gated imaging system allows simultaneous 3-D and 2-D imaging of objects. The 3-D gated imaging system described in the dissertation could be used for examination of buried structures (microchannels, defects etc.) or laser written volumetric structures and could also be suitable for in-vivo imaging applications in biology in the mid-IR spectral region. As an example, 3-D imaging of buried semiconductor structures is presented. A theoretical study of D-2PA of QWs for transverse electric (TE) and transverse magnetic (TM) fields is carried out and an analytical expression for the D-2PA coefficient in QWs using second-order perturbation theory is derived. A theory for ND-2PA in QW semiconductor using second-order perturbation theory is developed for the first time and an analytical expression for the ND-2PA coefficient for TE, TM, and the mixed case of TE and TM is derived. The shape of the 2PA curve for the D-2PA and ND-2PA for QWs in the TE case is similar to that of bulk semiconductors. As governed by the selection rules both the D-2PA and ND-2PA curves for the TE case does not show a step-like signature for the density of states of the QWs whereas 2PA curve for the TM case shows such step like sharp features. The ND-2PA coefficient for TE, TM, and the mixed case is compared with that obtained for bulk semiconductors. Large enhancement in ND-2PA of QW semiconductors for the TM case over bulk semiconductors is predicted.


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Graduation Date





Vanstryland, Eric


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Optics and Photonics


Optics and Photonics

Degree Program

Optics and Photonics








Release Date

May 2015

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)