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Annu Rev Phys Chem. 2001;52:193-231.

Spectroscopy and hot electron relaxation dynamics in semiconductor quantum wells and quantum dots.

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The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Center for Basic Sciences, 1617 Cole Boulevard, Golden, Colorado 80401, USA.


Photoexcitation of a semiconductor with photons above the semiconductor band gap creates electrons and holes that are out of equilibrium. The rates at which the photogenerated charge carriers return to equilibrium via thermalization through carrier scattering, cooling by phonon emission, and radiative and nonradiative recombination are important issues. The relaxation processes can be greatly affected by quantization effects that arise when the carriers are confined to regions of space that are small compared with their deBroglie wavelength or the Bohr radius of bulk excitons. The effects of size quantization in semiconductor quantum wells (carrier confinement in one dimension) and quantum dots (carrier confinement in three dimensions) on the respective carrier relaxation processes are reviewed, with emphasis on electron cooling dynamics. The implications of these effects for applications involving radiant energy conversion are also discussed.

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