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Control of semiconductor emitter frequency by increasing polariton momenta

Nature Photonicsvolume 12pages423429 (2018) | Download Citation


Light emission and absorption is fundamentally a joint property of both an emitter and its optical environment. Nevertheless, because of the much smaller momenta of photons compared with electrons at similar energies, the optical environment typically modifies only the emission/absorption rates, leaving the emitter transition frequencies practically an intrinsic property. We show here that surface polaritons, exemplified by graphene plasmons, but also valid for other types of polariton, enable substantial and tunable control of the transition frequencies of a nearby quantum well, demonstrating a sharp break with the emitter-centric view. Central to this result is the large momenta of surface polaritons that can approach the momenta of electrons and impart a pronounced non-local behaviour to the quantum well. This work facilitates non-vertical optical transitions in solids and empowers ongoing efforts to access such transitions in indirect-bandgap materials, such as silicon, as well as enriching the study of non-locality in photonics.

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Change history

  • 16 July 2018

    In the version of this Article originally published, there were errors in equations (1), (3b) and (6), as well as in the equation in the sentence beginning “The results presented are normalized to yield...”, in addition, equation (5) wasn’t numbered as such; the details are shown in the correction notice. These errors have now been corrected online.


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The authors thank M. Hoffman for the illustration in Fig. 1a and R. Tenne for his advice. The research of J.D.J. and M.S. was supported as part of the Army Research Office through the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies under contract no. W911NF-18-2-0048 (photon management for developing nuclear-TPV and fuel-TPV mm-scale-systems), and also supported as part of the S3TEC, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the US Department of Energy under grant no. DE-SC0001299 (for fundamental photon transport related to solar TPVs and solar-TEs). The research of M.O. was supported by the the Israeli ICore Excellence Center ‘Circle of Light’. N.R. was supported by Department of Energy Fellowship DE-FG02-97ER25308. T.C. acknowledges support from the Danish Council for Independent Research (grant no. DFF–6108-00667). I.K. was supported by the Azrieli foundation as an Azrieli Fellow, and was partially supported by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Research Council (FP7-Marie Curie IOF) under grant no. 328853-MC-BSiCS.

Author information


  1. Department of Electrical Engineering, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel

    • Yaniv Kurman
    • , Shai Tsesses
    • , Meir Orenstein
    •  & Ido Kaminer
  2. Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

    • Nicholas Rivera
    • , Thomas Christensen
    • , Marin Soljačić
    •  & John D. Joannopoulos


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All authors made significant contributions to writing the manuscript.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Correspondence to Yaniv Kurman or Ido Kaminer.

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  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary discussion, derivations and data; Supplementary Figures 1–9; Supplementary References 1–12.

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