The idea of using quantum well heterostructures to control the energy of photons emitted in a semi-conductor, rather than the more usual and higher-energies interband transitions, was first developed by R.F. Kazarinov and R.A. Suris in 1971. The first experimental demonstration of such a Quantum Cascade Laser was made in 1994 at Bell Labs by Jérôme Faist, Federico Capasso, Deborah Sivco, Carlo Sirtori, Albert Hutchinson, and Alfred Cho in 1994.
In 1998 Alpes Lasers was founded in Neuchatel, Switzerland by Jérôme Faist, then a Professor at the University of Neuchâtel, now at ETH Zürich, Antoine Müller and Matthias Beck. It was then the first company to offer Quantum Cascade Lasers on the market, a priority it has maintained by commercialising the first CW laser in 2001 and the first broad gain laser in 2009.
You can find here some basic information on the different technologies used at Alpes Lasers and the resulting characteristics of the lasers.