Polaritonics Providing a Paradigm Shift in Optoelectronics

PI: Keith Adam Nelson, Department of Chemistry, MIT
PI's: Natalia Berloff and Pavlos Lagoudakis, Center for Photonics and Quantum Materials, Skoltech

Modern digital society is largely built on optoelectronic devices. Infrared lasers pulse optical data through a global network of silica optical fibres; light‐emitting diodes illuminate our homes and backlight liquid‐crystal displays in our phones, tablets and televisions; visible lasers store and read data in DVDs; photovoltaic cells harvest clean energy direct from the sun. Every one of these technologies has been made possible by advances and paradigms shifts in the physics of semiconductor materials and devices. Current optoelectronic technologies exploit these advances to manipulate separately semiconductor charge carriers and light. We believe that the next paradigm shift will not control these separately but will couple together the photon and electron in a Bosonic state called a “polariton”. "Polaritons" are quasi‐particles that arise from strong coupling between light and matter. They have hybrid properties of photons and excitons, combining the mobility and flexibility of light, with strong interactions due to the matter component. Their physics is quite different from the physics of Fermionic electrons and holes in a semiconductor, on which current optoelectronic devices are based. At high enough densities, or low enough temperatures, polaritons can form a macroscopic coherent quantum state, a polariton condensate, or a polariton laser. Such a coherent state shows much of the same physics as Bose Einstein Condensation, but without requiring the ultra‐low temperatures needed for atoms. It is the goal of this project to drive the next revolution of the optoelectronics industry by developing the foundations and prototyping the first polariton driven devices.

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