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Electronic Raman scattering in silicon glass
preprintposted on 2023-12-06, 17:00 authored by Sergey S. Kharintsev, Elina I. Battalova, Aleksey I. Noskov, Jovany Merham, Eric O. Potma, Dmitry A. Fishman
The nature of enhanced photoemission in disordered and amorphous solids is an intriguing open question. A point in case is light emission in silicon, which occurs when the material is porous or nanostructured, but the effect is absent in the bulk crystalline phase, a phenomenon that is still not fully understood. In this work, we study structural photoemission in a heterogeneous cross-linked silicon glass, a material that represents an intermediate state between the amorphous and crystalline phases, characterized by a narrow distribution of structure sizes. This model system shows a clear dependence of photoemission on size and disorder across a broad range of energies. While phonon-assisted indirect optical transitions are insufficient to describe observable emissions, our experiments suggest these can be understood through electronic Raman scattering instead. This phenomenon, not commonly observed in crystalline semiconductors, is driven by structural disorder. We attribute photoemission in this disordered system to the presence of an excess electron density of states within the forbidden gap (Urbach bridge), where electrons occupy trapped states. Transitions from gap states to the conduction band are facilitated through electron-photon momentum matching, which resembles Compton scattering, but observed for visible light and driven by the enhanced momentum of a photon confined within the nanostructured domains. We interpret the light emission in structured silicon glass as resulting from electronic Raman scattering. These findings emphasize the role of photon momentum in the optical response of solids that display disorder at the nanoscale.