The monolithic integration of photonics and microelectronics on silicon is one of today's most-sought goals in semiconductor technology. Optical gain is, in general, not expected for Si and Ge or its alloys due to the indirect nature of the band gap in this material system. Here, we show that Ge/SiGe QWs show transient optical gain and may thus be used as an ultrafast optically-pumped amplifier at room temperature. Further, the nonequilibrium effects which govern the relaxation dynamics of the optically injected carrier distributions in this material were observed and analyzed using a microscopic many-body theory. Strong non-equilibrium gain was obtained on a sub-100 fs time scale. Long-lived gain arising from -point transitions is overcompensated by a mechanism bearing the character of free carrier absorption.
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