Spontaneous emission lifetime of carriers in a semiconductor microcavity measured by photoluminescence without distortion by reabsorption

S. Park, V. Zapasskii, D. V. Wick, T. R. Nelson, C. Ell, H. M. Gibbs, G. Khitrova, A. Schülzgen, M. Kira, F. Jahnke, S. W. Koch

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A theory for carrier decay rates and a technique for measuring them are reported. Modification of the spontaneous emission rate of carriers by a semiconductor microcavity is investigated with 100-nm-thick bulk GaAs. Reabsorption makes the cavity-mode photoluminescence (PL) decay much faster than the square of the carrier density. Here reabsorption distortion is avoided by collecting PL that escapes the microcavity directly without multiple reflections: a ZnSe prism glued to the top mirror allows PL to escape at angles beyond the cutoff angle for total internal reflection without the prism. At these steep angles, the stop band of the top mirror has shifted to higher energy, so that it does not impede PL emission. Removal of most of the bottom mirror decreases the true carrier decay rate by only =25%, showing that the large enhancements deduced from cavity-mode PL are incorrect. Fully quantum mechanical computation including guided modes corroborates this conclusion. The prism technique could be used to study carrier dynamics and competition between guided and cavity modes in microcavities below and near threshold.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)512-524
Number of pages13
JournalOptics Express
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jun 1999


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics

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