Chapter 12 Semiconductor Nanophotonics Using Surface Polaritons

  • Thomas G. FollandEmail author
  • Joshua D. Caldwell
Conference paper
Part of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Series B: Physics and Biophysics book series (NAPSB)


The properties of crystalline materials are dictated by the physical arrangement and behaviour of their constituent atoms. The behaviour of electrons and phonons (lattice vibrations), generally dominate the optoelectronic properties of a material. Electrons typically occupy either bound states, where they are unable to move and contribute to charge transfer, or in a delocalised state, where they can propagate through the lattice and carry electric current. These states form energy bands, called valence and conduction bands (see Fig. 12.1a), and the energies of these bands are one of the key ways of classifying materials. In a metal, these bands of energies overlap, and as a result, electrons are always able to freely propagate throughout the material. On the other hand, in an insulator these bands are separated by an energy difference (the band gap) and there is a small electronic density of states near the valence and conduction band edges. Semiconductors exist in-between these two extremes. They possess a band gap, but charge carriers can be moved between bands through either external stimuli or during the growth process via doping. This means that whilst semiconductors intrinsically behave as insulators, perturbations induced by thermal energy, light, dopants, or an electric field can switch them into acting as a conductor. Furthermore, in polar semiconductors the charge separation between the ionic lattice sites allow for crystalline vibrations (phonons) to couple with infrared to terahertz light. This broad range of interactions is what has made semiconductors an integral part of electronics, light emitting diodes, lasers, detectors and photovoltaics.



Both JDC and TGF acknowledge support from the School of Engineering at Vanderbilt University.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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