Theory of non-equilibrium 'hot' carriers in direct band-gap semiconductors under continuous illumination

Subhajit Sarkar, Ieng Wai Un, Yonatan Sivan, Yonatan Dubi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The interplay between the illuminated excitation of carriers and subsequent thermalization and recombination leads to the formation of non-equilibrium distributions for the 'hot' carriers and to heating of both electrons, holes and phonons. In spite of the fundamental and practical importance of these processes, there is no theoretical framework which encompasses all of them and provides a clear prediction for the non-equilibrium carrier distributions. Here, a self-consistent theory accounting for the interplay between excitation, thermalization, and recombination in continuously-illuminated semiconductors is presented, enabling the calculation of non-equilibrium carrier distributions. We show that counter-intuitively, distributions deviate more from equilibrium under weak illumination than at high intensities. We mimic two experimental procedures to extract the carrier temperatures and show that they yield different dependence on illumination. Finally, we provide an accurate way to evaluate photoluminescence efficiency, which, unlike conventional models, predicts correctly the experimental results. These results provide a starting point towards examining how non-equilibrium features will affect properties hot-carrier based application.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number053008
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2022


  • CW illuminated semiconductor
  • coupled Boltzmann-heat equation
  • hot carrier photoluminescence
  • steady-state properties of hot carriers

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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