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The ultrafast suppression and recovery of an active photonic band-gap structure constructed from the periodic complex susceptibility of quantum well excitons is demonstrated. For resonant pumping, the corresponding superradiant mode is slaved by the external field, and the structure forms a mirror that can be switched on and off at a bandwidth limited only by the width of the pump-pulse and the photonic band gap. Absorption and creation of free carriers is suppressed by the accelerated decay of the superradiant mode of the light-coupled quantum wells. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.