Abstract

Microcavity exciton polaritons, the fundamental optical excitations of semiconductor microcavities with quantum wells inside, have been proposed as promising candidates for observing stimulated scattering, condensation and other phenomena related to the bosonic nature of excitons. Having a light mass, quantum degeneracy of polaritons can be reached at low densities and high temperatures. But the radiative time of polaritons is very short (in the picosecond range) and usually prevents an efficient thermalization and cooling of the excited cloud of polaritons. A 'coherently-driven condensate', not corresponding to a thermal equilibrium, but featuring multiple occupation of single-particle states, can however be created by an external laser source resonantly exciting polaritons. Under this condition, stimulated parametric scattering of polaritons can provide huge optical gain on a weak probe pulse shined on the sample. In this work we demonstrate that this phenomenon can survive at temperatures close to room temperature and could be achieved in the next future even above this limit. Clever sample designs favour the thermal robustness of polariton parametric amplification, but from the experimental data it turns out that the parameter that ultimately limits the highest temperature for polariton parametric scattering is the exciton binding energy. (C) 2003 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

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