A detailed numerical study of the third-order nonlinear optical susceptibilities of semiconductor quantum wells is presented. The dependence of on material parameters (electron-hole mass ratio and exciton linewidths), on the light polarization configuration (co- and countercircularly polarized) and on the spectral configuration is discussed. The goal of this study is to map out the nonlinear phase shift per quantum well and a related figure of merit caused by quasi-resonant excitonic and biexcitonic nonlinearities induced by picosecond light pulses. The study is based on the dynamics-controlled truncation formalism and evaluated under the assumption that only 1s-heavy-hole excitons contribute to the nonlinearities. It includes all correlation effects (exciton–exciton scattering in the singlet and triplet channels and coherent biexciton formation in the singlet channel) that contribute within the coherent excitonic regime.
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