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Quantum-dot infrared photodetectors (QDIPs) are being studied extensively for mid-wavelength and long-wavelength infrared detection because they offer normal-incidence, high-temperature, multispectral operation. Intersubband absorption, carrier lifetime, and gain are parameters that need to be better characterized, understood, and controlled in order to realize high-performance QDIPs. An eight-band k·p model is used to calculate polarization-dependent intersubband absorption. The calculated trend in absorption has been compared with measured data. In addition, a Monte-Carlo simulation is used to calculate the effective carrier lifetime in detectors, allowing the calculation of gain in QDIPs as a function of bias. The calculated gain values can be fitted well with experimental data, revealing that the gain in these devices consists of two mechanisms: photoconductive gain and avalanche gain, where the latter is less dominant at normal operating biases.