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A gain medium and an interband cascade laser, having the gain medium are presented. The gain medium can have one or both of the following features: (1) the thicknesses of the one or more hole quantum wells in the hole injector region are reduced commensurate with the thickness of the active hole quantum well in the active quantum well region, so as to place the valence band maximum in the hole injector region at least about 100 meV lower than the valence band maximum in the active hole quantum well; and (2) the thickness of the last well of the electron injector region is between 85 and 110% of the thickness of the first active electron quantum well in the active gain region of the next stage of the medium. A laser incorporating a gain medium in accordance with the present invention can emit in the mid-IR range from about 2.5 to 8 μm at high temperatures with room-temperature continuous wave operation to wavelengths of at least 4.6 μm, threshold current density of about 400 A/cm2 and threshold power density of about 900 W/cm2.