PhD Thesis Defense
Wednesday, August 10, 2016 - 10:00 to 12:00
Event Speaker: 
Andrew Stickel

This dissertation explores the material response to Terahertz (THz) radiation. Specifically we will explore the ultrafast electron dynamics in the non-perturbative regime in semiconductors that have been patterned with nanoantenna arrays using broadband, high intensity, THz radiation. Three main semiconductor materials will be studied in this work. The first is VO2 which undergoes a phase transition from an insulator, when it is below 67 C, to a metal, when it is above 67 C. The second and third materials are Si and GaAs which are two of the most commonly used semiconductors.

We study the insulator to metal transition (IMT) of VO2 and its response to high field THz radiation. The near room temperature IMT for VO2 makes it a very promising material for electrical and photonic applications. We demonstrate that with high field THz the IMT transition can be triggered. This transition is induced on a sub-cycle timescale. We also demonstrate a THz field dependent reduction in the transition temperature for the IMT when transitioning from both below Tc to above as well as from above Tc to below. This transition is not equal for the above and below cases and leads to a narrowing of the hysteresis curve of the IMT. The thin film Fresnel coefficients, along with a phenomenological model developed for the nanoantenna patterned VO2, are also used to calculate the sheet conductivity of the VO2 sample. We show, using this sheet conductivity and its relation to the band gap, that the bang gap in the insulating phase has a strong dependence on the incident THz radiation with larger fields reducing the band gap from 1.2 eV at low incident THz fields to 0.32 eV at high incident THz fields.

The ultrafast, non-equilibrium, electron dynamics of GaAs and Si were also explored. GaAs and Si are the two most prevalent semiconductors in use today and with the decrease in size and increase in clock speeds of transistors a deep understanding of the ultrafast high field electron dynamics of these materials is of vital importance. Using THz time domain spectroscopy we investigate the transition rates of electrons excited by a 800 nm optical pump. We show that the optically induced transition for GaAs happens on a shorter timescale than that of Si. We also investigate the THz transmission dependence on the indecent THz field. We show that intense THz fields enhance the transmission through the sample. The increase in transmission is due to intervalley scattering which increases the effective mass of the electrons resulting in a decrease in the conductivity the sample.