Unsurpassed exciton distances, lifetimes may lead to new form of optical communication
When light hits a semiconductor material and is absorbed, its photons can become "excitons," sometimes referred to as "heavy photons" because they carry energy, like photons, but have mass, like electrons. Excitons typically exist for only a short time--trillionths of a second--and travel only a few microns before turning back into photons, which are then emitted from the material.
In the June 10 issue of the journal Physical Review Letters, scientists from the University of Pittsburgh and Bell Labs, the R&D arm of Lucent Technologies, report that they have designed and demonstrated a two-dimensional semiconductor structure in which excitons exist longer and travel farther than previously recorded. In their paper, titled "Long-Distance Diffusion of Excitons in Double Quantum Well Structures," David Snoke, senior author and associate professor of physics and astronomy at Pitt, and his colleagues report a system in which excitons move freely over distances of hundreds of microns. Their findings open up the possibility of new applications, such as excitonic circuits.
Karen Hoffmann | EurekAlert!
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