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Giant superfluorescent bursts from a semiconductor magneto-plasma

Nature Physics volume 8, pages 219224 (2012) | Download Citation

Abstract

Superradiance—the cooperative decay of excited dipoles—has recently been discussed in a diverse range of contexts in which coherent coupling of constituent particles governs their cooperative dynamics: cavity quantum electrodynamics, quantum phase transitions and plasmonics. Here we observe intense, delayed bursts of coherent radiation from a photo-excited semiconductor and interpret it as superfluorescence, where macroscopic coherence spontaneously appears from initially incoherent electron–hole pairs. The coherence then decays superradiantly, with a concomitant abrupt decrease in population from full inversion to zero. This is the first observation of superfluorescence in a dense semiconductor plasma, where decoherence is much faster than radiative decay, a situation never encountered in atomic cases. Nonetheless, a many-body cooperative state of phased electron–hole ‘dipoles’ does emerge at high magnetic fields and low temperatures, producing giant superfluorescent pulses. The solid-state realization of superfluorescence resulted in unprecedented controllability, promising tunable sources of coherent pulses.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation through grants DMR-1006663 and ECS-0547019. A portion of this work was performed at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, supported by NSF Co-operative Agreement No. DMR-0084173 and by the State of Florida. We thank G. Solomon for providing us with the InGaAs/GaAs quantum well sample used in this study.

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Affiliations

  1. Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics and Astronomy, Rice University, Houston, Texas 77005, USA

    • G. Timothy Noe II
    • , Ji-Hee Kim
    •  & Junichiro Kono
  2. Department of Physics, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA

    • Jinho Lee
    •  & David H. Reitze
  3. Department of Physics and Astronomy, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843, USA

    • Yongrui Wang
    • , Aleksander K. Wójcik
    •  & Alexey A. Belyanin
  4. National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32310, USA

    • Stephen A. McGill

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Contributions

G.T.N., J-H.K. and J.L. performed the measurements presented in this manuscript, in collaboration with S.A.M. J.L. did most of the initial work of setting up the streak camera. Y.W., A.K.W. and A.A.B. developed the theoretical model and performed simulations. D.H.R. and J.K. provided overall supervision and guidance on the experimental aspects. All authors contributed to data analysis and interpretation as well as the writing of the manuscript.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Junichiro Kono.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nphys2207

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