The primary challenges in implementing a Si based quantum cascade laser are discussed. Intersubband absorption measurements were carried out on a series of modulation doped multiquantum well structures. The spectra were compared to the predictions of a 6 band k.p model, which confirmed the excellent accuracy of the model, and its ability to predict the bandstructures of more complicated cascade structures. A detailed structural analysis demonstrated excellent growth quality, with an interface roughness of < 0.4 nm. Electroluminescence measurements on cascade structures with doped contacts, processed as finger structures and waveguides of various sizes, enabled a quantitative analysis of the active region performance. The upper state lifetime τnr was ∼ 100 fs, leading to a total active region optical gain of ∼ 2 cm−1, a factor of ∼ 10 lower than the estimated total losses due to free carrier absorption. The total emitted power and the linewidth of the intersubband emission saturate above ∼ 6.5 kA/cm2, probably due to misalignment of the injector levels at high biases. The effect of leak currents and interspersed light hole states on the intersubband emission are considered.