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Physics  2008 

Antibonding ground states in semiconductor artificial molecules

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The spin-orbit interaction is a crucial element of many semiconductor spintronic technologies. Here we report the first experimental observation, by magneto-optical spectroscopy, of a remarkable consequence of the spin-orbit interaction for holes confined in the molecular states of coupled quantum dots. As the thickness of the barrier separating two coupled quantum dots is increased, the molecular ground state changes character from a bonding orbital to an antibonding orbital. This result is counterintuitive, and antibonding molecular ground states are never observed in natural diatomic molecules. We explain the origin of the reversal using a four band k.p model that has been validated by numerical calculations that account for strain. The discovery of antibonding molecular ground states provides new opportunities for the design of artificially structured materials with complex molecular properties that cannot be achieved in natural systems.


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