Radiative Auger process in the single-photon limit

Löbl, M.C. and Spinnler, C. and Javadi, A. and Zhai, L. and Nguyen, G.N. and Ritzmann, J. and Midolo, L. and Lodahl, P. and Wieck, A.D. and Ludwig, Ar. and Warburton, R.J.

Volume: 15 Pages: 558-562
DOI: 10.1038/s41565-020-0697-2
Published: 2020

In a multi-electron atom, an excited electron can decay by emitting a photon. Typically, the leftover electrons are in their ground state. In a radiative Auger process, the leftover electrons are in an excited state and a redshifted photon is created1–4. In a semiconductor quantum dot, radiative Auger is predicted for charged excitons5. Here we report the observation of radiative Auger on trions in single quantum dots. For a trion, a photon is created on electron–hole recombination, leaving behind a single electron. The radiative Auger process promotes this additional (Auger) electron to a higher shell of the quantum dot. We show that the radiative Auger effect is a powerful probe of this single electron: the energy separations between the resonance fluorescence and the radiative Auger emission directly measure the single-particle splittings of the electronic states in the quantum dot with high precision. In semiconductors, these single-particle splittings are otherwise hard to access by optical means as particles are excited typically in pairs, as excitons. After the radiative Auger emission, the Auger carrier relaxes back to the lowest shell. Going beyond the original theoretical proposals, we show how applying quantum optics techniques to the radiative Auger photons gives access to the single-electron dynamics, notably relaxation and tunnelling. This is also hard to access by optical means: even for quasi-resonant p-shell excitation, electron relaxation takes place in the presence of a hole, complicating the relaxation dynamics. The radiative Auger effect can be exploited in other semiconductor nanostructures and quantum emitters in the solid state to determine the energy levels and the dynamics of a single carrier. © 2020, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

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