We demonstrate saturable absorber behavior of n-type semiconductors GaAs, GaP, and Ge in the terahertz (THz) frequency range at room temperature using nonlinear THz spectroscopy. The saturation mechanism is based on a decrease in electron conductivity of semiconductors at high electron momentum states, due to conduction band nonparabolicity and scattering into satellite valleys in strong THz fields. Saturable absorber parameters, such as linear and nonsaturable transmission, and saturation fluence, are extracted by fits to a classic saturable absorber model. Further, we observe THz pulse shortening, and an increase in the group refractive index of the samples at higher THz pulse peak fields.

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