Silicon Nanocrystals: Quantum Confinement


James R. Chelikowsky Chem. Engineering & Materials Science, University of Minnesota

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Silicon is the electronic material of choice; it is used for almost all modern electronic devices, e.g., in the manufacture and design of integrated circuits. However, silicon is flawed in one respect. Namely, it is not a particularly good optoelectric material. Laser photodetectors, photocells, and so on are not constructed from elemental silicon. The optical gap of silicon is not amenable for such devices; the gap in silicon is too small to interact effectively with the visible spectrum. In addition, the transitions at the optical threshold in silicon are forbidden unless lattice vibrations are included. If the gap could be increased, silicon could be used for virtually any electronic or optical application. Owing to such technological motivation, numerous theoretical methods to predict or simulate the optical properties of silicon nanostructures have been implemented. This section will review some of these methods with an emphasis on atomistic approaches.