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Nano Lett. 2008 Nov;8(11):3787-93. doi: 10.1021/nl8021016. Epub 2008 Oct 1.

Quantification of free-carrier absorption in silicon nanocrystals with an optical microcavity.

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  • 1Geballe Laboratory of Advanced Materials, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


We present a highly sensitive and accurate microcavity-based technique to quantify the free-carrier absorption (FCA) cross-section of semiconductor quantum-dot ensembles. The procedure is based on measuring the pump-intensity-dependent broadening of the whispering gallery modes (WGMs) of microdisk resonators. We have applied this technique to determine the FCA cross-section of Si nanocrystals (Si-ncs) in the visible-near-infrared wavelength range. Our procedure accounts for the size distribution effects by including the measured wavelength dependence of the excitation cross-section and the decay rate of photoexcited carriers in the analysis. By monitoring the WGM widths at various wavelengths in the 700-900 nm wavelength range, we found that the FCA cross-section follows an approximately quadratic wavelength dependence. The magnitude of the FCA cross-section of Si nanocrystals was determined to be a factor of 7 higher than that in bulk Si. For this reason, these findings have important implications for the design of Si-based lasers and all-optical switching devices in which FCA plays a critical role.

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