In this proceedings we describe our recent results on semiconductor nonlinear optics, investigated using single-cycle THz pulses. We demonstrate the nonlinear absorption and self-phase modulation of strong-field THz pulses in doped semiconductors, using n-GaAs as a model system. The THz nonlinearity in doped semiconductors originates from the near-instantaneous heating of free electrons in the ponderomotive potential created by electric field of the THz pulse, leading to ultrafast increase of electron effective mass by intervalley scattering. Modification of effective mass in turn leads to a decrease of plasma frequency in semiconductor and produces a substantial modification of THz-range material dielectric function, described by the Drude model. As a result, the nonlinearity of both absorption coefficient and refractive index of the semiconductor is observed. In particular we demonstrate the nonlinear THz pulse compression and broadening in n-GaAs, as well as an intriguing effect of coexisting positive and negative refractive index nonlinearity within the broad spectrum of a single-cycle THz pulse. Based on Drude analysis we demonstrate that the spectral position of zero index nonlinearity is determined by (but not equal to) the electron momentum relaxation rate. Single cycle pulses of light, irrespective of the frequency range to which they belong, inherently have an ultrabroadband spectrum covering many octaves of frequencies. Unlike the single-cycle pulses in optical domain, the THz pulses can be easily sampled with sub-cycle resolution using conventional femtosecond lasers. This makes the THz pulses accessible model tools for direct observation of general nonlinear optical phenomena occurring in the single-cycle regime.
Proceedings of Spie, the International Society for Optical Engineering, 2013, Vol 8623