Optical Processes in Quantum Wells
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A review is given of the theoretical framework of exciton dynamics in quantum wells including the spin degrees of freedom. A study is made of various momentum, energy, and spin relaxation mechanisms including the effects of exciton-phonon interaction, the single-particle spin-flips by means of spin-orbit interaction and the exciton spin-flip by means of the exchange interaction. All these competing mechanisms are taken into account in a set of equations governing the time evolution of the exciton spin populations. Solutions are then used to interpret observed time-resolved observations of polarized luminescence spectra. For excitons in a two-dimensional system such as a semiconductor quantum well, the breaking of the translational symmetry in the direction normal to the interface plane has been shown theoretically by Hanamura, by Andreani and Bassani, and by Citrin to result in a recombination rate much faster than in a three-dimensional system. Yet, experiments show comparable decay rates in two- and three-dimensional excitons. Recent experiments with high time resolutions show two decay times for the total luminescence intensity. The slower one agrees with the one usually observed and interpreted as the radiative recombination time. We shall give an explanation for the fast decay as a combination of radiative recombination and single-particle spin-flip and for the slow decay as the radiative recombination slowed down by the presence of lower energy dark states for excitons with parallel spins. The ability to use the same theory to account for the polarization behavior confirms the importance of the exciton spin dynamics. Furthermore, the longitudinal electric field dependence is used to check our theory of exchange.
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