Abstract

We experimentally investigate the full polarization behavior of mid-infrared emitting quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) in terms of measuring the complete Stokes parameters, instead of only projecting them on a linear polarization basis. We demonstrate that besides the pre-dominant linear TM polarization of the emitted light as governed by the selection rules of the intersubband transition, small non-TM contributions, e.g., circularly polarized light, are present reflecting the birefringent behavior of the semiconductor quantum well waveguide. Surprisingly unique is the persistence of these polarization properties well below laser threshold. These investigations give further insight into understanding, manipulating, and exploiting the polarization properties of QCLs, both from a laser point of view and with respect toward applications.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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