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Bandstructure engineering has enabled a broad array of semiconductor heterostructure devices, such as quantum cascade lasers, whose performance is governed by a broad parameter space involving intertwined physical properties. Using present methods it is challenging if not impossible to design structures that isolate a specific physical property that directly correlates with experimental results. To overcome this problem, we developed a new methodology, inverse quantum engineering (IQE), which employs an evolutionary algorithm to design families of structures with everything identical except for a specific physical property of our choosing. We show that IQE allows creation of model families of designs that isolate targeted experimental effects, thus allowing direct investigation of specific physical mechanisms and their often complicated and counter-intuitive interplay.