We report on linear and nonlinear short-wavelength (λ<2 μm) intersubband (ISB) absorption characteristics in ZnSe/BeTe quantum wells by means of an interband pump and ISB pump/probe technique. The ISB absorption saturates with a hole burning effect, indicating the absorption band is broadened inhomogeneously. The saturation intensity is as low as 4.3 MW/cm2 at λ=1.76 μm. The direct ISB energy relaxation time increases gradually from 0.20 to 0.38 ps with decreasing λ from 2.2 to 1.8 μm, while the saturation recovery is replaced by another slow relaxation process with a time constant of a few ps. The Γ(ZnSe)–X(BeTe) electron transfer is a relevant mechanism for this slow relaxation.

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