Abstract

Recent advances in optical studies of condensed matter systems have led to the emergence of a variety of phenomena that have conventionally been studied in the realm of quantum optics. These studies have not only deepened our understanding of light–matter interactions but have also introduced aspects of many-body correlations inherent in optical processes in condensed matter systems. This paper is concerned with the phenomenon of superradiance (SR), a profound quantum optical process originally predicted by Dicke in 1954. The basic concept of SR applies to a general N body system, where constituent oscillating dipoles couple together through interaction with a common light field and accelerate the radiative decay of the whole system. Hence, the term SR ubiquitously appears in order to describe radiative coupling of an arbitrary number of oscillators in many situations in modern science of both classical and quantum description. In the most fascinating manifestation of SR, known as superfluorescence (SF), an incoherently prepared system of N inverted atoms spontaneously develops macroscopic coherence from vacuum fluctuations and produces a delayed pulse of coherent light whose peak intensity N2. Such SF pulses have been observed in atomic and molecular gases, and their intriguing quantum nature has been unambiguously demonstrated. In this review, we focus on the rapidly developing field of research on SR phenomena in solids, where not only photon-mediated coupling (as in atoms) but also strong Coulomb interactions and ultrafast scattering processes exist. We describe SR and SF in molecular centers in solids, molecular aggregates and crystals, quantum dots, and quantum wells. In particular, we will summarize a series of studies we have recently performed on semiconductor quantum wells in the presence of a strong magnetic field. In one type of experiment, electron-hole pairs were incoherently prepared, but a macroscopic polarization spontaneously emerged and cooperatively decayed, emitting an intense SF burst. In another type of experiment, we observed the SR decay of coherent cyclotron resonance of ultrahigh-mobility 2D electron gases, leading to a decay rate that is proportional to the electron density. These results show that cooperative effects in solid-state systems are not merely small corrections that require exotic conditions to be observed; rather, they can dominate the nonequilibrium dynamics and light emission processes of the entire system of interacting electrons.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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