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AbstractThis dissertation presents investigations of fundamental optical nonlinearities in semi-conductor microstructures. Two distinct effects are studied. In the first part the excitonic optical Stark effect in InGaAs and GaAs multiple quantum-well structures is investigated by means of pump-probe spectroscopy. For nonresonant excitation below the excitonic transition the direction of the shift of the resonance depends on the polarization of the pump and probe pulses. In particular, for anti-circular polarization a surprising red-shift is observed. For resonant excitation, induced absorption energetically above and below the exciton transition and bleaching of the resonance is found. Experiments using both resonant and nonresonant excitation reveal the importance of bound and unbound two-exciton states in absorption changes of the 1s heavy-hole exciton resonance. It is found that higher-order Coulomb contributions determine the intensity as well as the time dependence of the differential excitonic absorption. In addition, the influence of light-hole excitons is analyzed. It is shown that the direction of the optical Stark shift for nonresonant excitation depends also sensitively on the heavy-hole to light-hole splitting and the detuning of the pump pulse. For very high pump intensities and nonresonant excitation the absorption is split when a circularly polarized pump and a linearly polarized probe beam are used. For co-circular excitation traces of hyper-Raman gain are observed. In the second part of this dissertation, the nonlinear optical response of semiconductor microcavities in the nonperturbative regime is studied in resonant single-beam transmission and pump-probe experiments. In both types of experiment, a pronounced third transmission peak lying spectrally between the two normal modes is observed. Its dependence on the probe intensity, pump intensity, pump-probe delay, exciton-cavity detuning and pump detuning is investigated. For single-beam transmission, the energy of the third peak parallels the position of the cavity resonance. It is more pronounced for circularly polarized excitation and lasts longer than the two normal modes. For pump-probe experiments, the third peak increases with decreasing probe intensity and increasing pump intensity. Its energy is close to the low-energy side of the pump spectrum and virtually unaffected by the cavity-exciton detuning. The appearance of the third peak requires temporal overlap of pump and probe pulses. The origin of this complex nonlinearity is the quantum nature of light, which induces intraband polarizations in the presence of a coherent driving field and a finite carrier density. It is found that the coupling of the intraband polarizations via guided modes to the polarization of the fundamental longitudinal mode is responsible for the third transmission peak. A fully quantized theory reproduces the experimental observations.
Degree ProgramGraduate College