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Bloch Oscillations

Alan Wu April 14, 2009 Physics 138

Phenomenon Description Semi-Classical Derivation Wannier-Stark States Implications and Applications
Terahertz Oscillations Bloch Oscillation Transistors

Bloch Oscillation Phenomenon

Described by Bloch (1928) Imagine a particle in a periodic potential acted on by a constant force. Example: electrons in crystal lattice exposed to constant electric field Classically, we expect Ohmic behavior

Bloch Oscillation Phenomenon

But quantum mechanics predicts that the particle will undergo an oscillation The periodicity causes the group velocity of the wavefunction to oscillate Ohmic behavior results from scattering

Bloch Oscillation Frequency

Use invariance: shift 1 period d and shift energy E Phase shift now

Corresponding frequency is

Semi-Classical Derivation
Schrodingers Equation can be transformed into the form:

Known as the Acceleration Theorem, since it describes change in momentum Like classical relation between momentum and force

K-Space in a Lattice
Potential periodicity in real space => periodicity in k-space

Also known as a reciprocal lattice

The Brillouin Zone

Brillouin Zone: a basic cell in the reciprocal lattice The dispersion relation gives an oscillating k within this zone

Kronig Penney Model

The Kronig Penney model for a lattice can be used to find the potential in k-space.

Source: http://fermi.la.asu.edu/schmidt/applets/kp/plugkp.html

Dispersion in lattice

Wannier-Stark Resonance States

At each well, a series of energies are available, much like that of a harmonic resonator. These states form what is known as a Wannier-Stark energy ladder.

Tight-binding model
Consider just interactions between neighboring wells (known as Wannier representation)

Also have energy difference from constant force

Experimental Confirmations
Bloch oscillations have been observed in semiconductor lattices Shining a laser will excite the Wannier Stark states, which then oscillate. These oscillations can be measured

Terahertz Radiation
Changing the electric field allows for a tunable radiation source. Can get frequencies in the terahertz

Bloch Oscillation Transistors

Bloch oscillations can control Josephson Junctions Act much like bipolar transistors

Bloch oscillations are just another strange quantum phenomenon They can be used for frequencies in the terahertz range Bloch oscillator transistors are an interesting way of amplifying signals