Abstract

Cavity polaritons, the elementary optical excitations of semiconductor microcavities, may be understood as a superposition of excitons and cavity photons(1). Owing to their composite nature, these bosonic particles have a distinct optical response, at the same time very fast and highly nonlinear. Very efficient light amplification due to polariton-polariton parametric scattering has recently been reported in semiconductor microcavities at liquid-helium temperatures(2-11). Here we demonstrate polariton parametric amplification up to 120 K in GaAlAs-based microcavities and up to 220 K in CdTe-based microcavities. We show that the cut-off temperature for the amplification is ultimately determined by the binding energy of the exciton. A 5-mum-thick planar microcavity can amplify a weak light pulse more than 5,000 times. The effective gain coefficient of an equivalent homogeneous medium would be 10(7) cm(-1). The subpicosecond duration and high efficiency of the amplification could be exploited for high-repetition all-optical microscopic switches and amplifiers. 10(5) polaritons occupy the same quantum state during the amplification, realizing a dynamical condensate of strongly interacting bosons which can be studied at high temperature.

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