Probing the Carrier Capture Rate of a Single Quantum Level

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Science  25 Jan 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5862, pp. 436-438
DOI: 10.1126/science.1151186

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The performance of many semiconductor quantum-based structures is governed by the dynamics of charge carriers between a localized state and a band of electronic states. Using scanning tunneling spectroscopy, we studied the transport of inelastic tunneling electrons through a prototypical localized state: an isolated dangling-bond state on a Si(111) surface. From the saturation of the current at an energy resonant with this state, the hole capture rate by the dangling bond was determined. By further mapping the spatial extension of its wave function, the localized nature of the level was found to be consistent with the small magnitude of its cross section. This approach illustrates how the microscopic environment of a single defect critically affects its carrier dynamics.

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