Inhibited Spontaneous Emission in Solid-State Physics and Electronics
It has been recognized for some time that the spontaneous emission by atoms is not necessarily a fixed and immutable property of the coupling between matter and space, but that it can be controlled by modification of the properties of the radiation field. This is equally true in the solid state, where spontaneous emission plays a fundamental role in limiting the performance of semiconductor lasers, heterojunction bipolar transistors, and solar cells. If a three-dimensionally periodic dielectric structure has an electromagnetic band gap which overlaps the electronic band edge, then spontaneous emission can be rigorously forbidden. It has been recognized for some time' that the spontaneous emission by atoms is not necessarily a fixed and immutable property of the coupling between matter and space, but that it can be controlled by modification of the properties of the radiation field. Recently there have been experiments in which the spontaneous emission by Rydberg atoms and by Penning-trapped electrons has been inhibited in a microwave cavity which had no electromagnetic modes at the transition frequency. Such a capability is no less important in the solid state where spontaneous emission in the form of electron-hole radiative recombination plays a decisive role. For direct-gap semiconductors it is commonplace for the internal spontaneous emission quantum efticiency of electron-hole recombination to exceed 90% even at room temperature.
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