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Publication # 050

D. A. B. Miller, D. S. Chemla, T. C. Damen, A. C. Gossard, W. Wiegmann, T. H. Wood and C. A. Burrus, "Electric Field Dependence of Optical Absorption near the Bandgap of Quantum Well Structures," Phys. Rev. B32, 1043-1060 (1985).

We report experiments and theory on the effects of electric fields on the optical absorption near the band edge in GaAs/AlGaAs quantum-well structures. We find distinct physical effects for fields parallel and perpendicular to the quantum-well structures. We find distinct physical effects for fields parallel and perpendicular to the quantum-well layers. In both cases, the excitons broaden with field, disappearing at fields ~10^4 V/cm; this behavior is in qualitative agreement with previous theory and in order-of-magnitude agreement with direct theoretical calculations of field ionization rates reported in this paper. This behavior is also qualitatively similar to that seen with three-dimensional semiconductors. For the perpendicular-field case, we see shifts of the exciton peaks to lower energiews by up to 2.5 times the zero-field binding energy with the excitons remaining resolved at up to ~ 10^5 V/cm: This behavior is qualitatively different from that of bulk semiconductors and is explained through a mechanism previously briefly described by us called the quantum-confined Stark effect. In this mechanism the quantum confinement of carriers inhibits the exciton field ionization. To support this mechanism we present detailed calculations of the shift of exciton peaks including 9i0 exact solutions for single particles in infinite wells, (ii) tunneling resonance calculations for finite wells, and (iii) variational calculations of exciton binding energy in a field. We also calculate the tunneling lifetimes of particles in the wells to check the inhibition of field ionization. The calculations are performed using both the 85:15 split of band-gap discontinuity between conduction and valence bands and the recently proposed 57:43 split. Although the detailed calculations differ in the two cases, the overall shift of the exciton peaks is not very sensitive to split ratio. We find excellent agreement with experiment with no fitted parameters.

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