Electron transport in GaAs/AlGaAs quantum cascade lasers operating in midinfrared is calculated self-consistently using an intersubband scattering model. Subband populations and carrier transition rates are calculated and all relevant electron-LO phonon and electron-electron scatterings between injector/collector, active region, and continuum resonance levels are included. The calculated carrier lifetimes and subband populations are then used to evaluate scattering current densities, injection efficiencies, and carrier backflow into the active region for a range of operating temperatures. From the calculated modal gain versus total current density dependencies the output characteristics, in particular the gain coefficient and threshold current, are extracted. For the original GaAs/Al0.33Ga0.67As quantum cascade structure [C. Sirtori , Appl. Phys. Lett. 73, 3486 (1998)] these are found to be g=11.3 cm/kA and J(th)=6+/-1 kA/cm(2) (at T=77 K), and g=7.9 cm/kA and J(th)=10+/-1 kA/cm(2) (at T=200 K), in good agreement with the experiment. Calculations shows that threshold cannot be achieved in this structure at T=300 K, due to the small gain coefficient and the gain saturation effect, also in agreement with experimental findings. The model thus promises to be a powerful tool for the prediction and optimization of new, improved quantum cascade structures. © 2002 American Institute of Physics. \ud \ud \ud \ud \ud \u
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