We present a theoretical analysis of laser action within the bands of propagating modes of a photonic crystal. Using Bloch functions as carrier waves in conjunction with a multiscale analysis, we derive the generalized Maxwell–Bloch equations for an incoherently pumped atomic system in interaction with the electromagnetic reservoir of a photonic crystal. These general Maxwell–Bloch equations are similar to the conventional semiclassical laser equations but contain effective parameters that depend on the band structure of the linear photonic crystal. Through an investigation of steady-state laser behavior, we show that, near a photonic band edge, the rate of stimulated emission may be enhanced and the internal losses are reduced, which leads to an important lowering of the laser threshold. In addition, we find an increase of the laser output along with an additional narrowing of the linewidth at a photonic band edge.
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