Excitonic and nonlinear-optical properties of dielectric quantum-well (DQW) structures are investigated theoretically. A DQW is a quantum well sandwiched by barrier materials with a smaller dielectric constant and a larger band gap than the well material. The fundamental physics determining the excitonic properties in a DQW, i.e., exciton binding energy, exciton oscillator strength, and nonlinear-optical response, are clarified. The most important mechanisms for enhancing the excitonic properties are quantum-confinement effect, mass-confinement effect, and dielectric-confinement effect. Quantum confinement increases the spatial overlap between an electron and a hole as a result of the potential well confinement, and it enhances oscillator strength. Mass confinement is based on the penetration of the carrier wave function into barrier layers with a heavier effective mass than the well layer. It increases the exciton reduced mass and hence the exciton binding energy. Dielectric confinement arises from the reduction of the effective dielectric constant of the whole system due to the penetration of the electric field into the barrier medium having a smaller dielectric constant than the well and enhances the Coulomb interaction between the electron and hole. On the basis of these analyses, the general guiding principles are established for designing DQW structures with optimum excitonic properties. Various practical examples of DQW's are examined with respect to the lattice-constant matching, the difference in the dielectric constant, and the difference in the carrier effective masses. ZnSe is found to be one of the most promising candidates for the barrier material of the GaAs DQW.
ASJC Scopus subject areas