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Bose–Einstein condensation of excitons in bilayer electron systems


An exciton is the particle-like entity that forms when an electron is bound to a positively charged ‘hole’. An ordered electronic state in which excitons condense into a single quantum state was proposed as a theoretical possibility many years ago. We review recent studies of semiconductor bilayer systems that provide clear evidence for this phenomenon and explain why exciton condensation in the quantum Hall regime, where these experiments were performed, is as likely to occur in electron–electron bilayers as in electron–hole bilayers. In current quantum Hall excitonic condensates, disorder induces mobile vortices that flow in response to a supercurrent and limit the extremely large bilayer counterflow conductivity.

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Figure 1: An electron–electron bilayer system in a strong magnetic field is equivalent to an electron–hole bilayer.
Figure 2: Tunnelling rate versus interlayer voltage in a bilayer electron system.
Figure 3: Hall voltage measurements reveal exciton condensation.
Figure 4: Motion of unpaired vortices leads to dissipation in excitonic superfluids.

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This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (J.P.E. and A.H.M.) and the Department of Energy (J.P.E.). We thank A. Burkov, Y. Joglekar, M. Kellogg, L. Pfeiffer, E. Rossi, I. Spielman and K. West for their essential help in this research.

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Correspondence to J. P. Eisenstein.

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Eisenstein, J., MacDonald, A. Bose–Einstein condensation of excitons in bilayer electron systems. Nature 432, 691–694 (2004).

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