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ECE G201

(Partly adapted from Prof. Hopwood)

Quasi-Free Electron:

This is the BIG approximation in looking at electrons in

crystals.

What is a Quasi-Free Electron?

Under some conditions (often found in devices)

electrons behave like free particles with an effective mass

that is different than the mass in vacuum.

We want to understand this approximation.

We also want to understand when behavior beyond this

approximation occurs in devices.

Copy!

Copy!

behaves like a particle with mass

m* = 2(d2E/dK2)-1

Recall that the electron energy is related to

the frequency of the electron wave

E =

and the group velocity of the wave is the

velocity of the electron

vg = d/dK = 1/ dE/dK (as in text)

the time-derivative of its velocity:

a = dvg/dt = d/dt(d/dK)

= d/dK(d/dK)dK/dt

= (1/ 2) d/dK(d/dK)(d (K)/dt)

= (1/ 2) (d2E/dK2)(d (K)/dt)

This is the term we are looking to show is:

What is d (K)/dt?

If we apply an external force on the electron, for

example an electric field (Fext=qE), then we will do

work on the electron:

dWe = Fextdx = Fext(vgdt) since vg = dx/dt = d/dK

= Fext(d/dK)dt

increases its energy

dWe = Fext(d/dK)dt = dE

= (dE/dK)dK

= [d()/dK]dK

= (d/dK)dK

therefore: Fextdt = dK

or Fext = d (K)/dt

note: since F=d(mv)/dt,

K is called the crystal momentum

Finally

a = (1/ 2) (d2E/dK2)(d (K)/dt)

and

Fext = d(K)/dt

gives us

a = (1/m*)Fext or Fext = m*a

Where m* = [(1/ 2) (d2E/dK2)]-1 = 2 (d2E/dK2)-1

Interpretation

The electron is subject to internal forces from the lattice

(ions and core electrons) AND external forces such as

electric fields

In a crystal lattice, the net force may be opposite the

external force, however:

Fext =-qE

Fint =-dEp/dx

Ep(x)

+

Interpretation

electron acceleration is not equal to Fext/me, but rather

a = (Fext + Fint)/me == Fext/m*

The dispersion relation E(K) compensates for the internal

forces due to the crystal and allows us to use classical

concepts for the electron as long as its mass is taken as m*

Fext =-qE

Fint =-dEp/dx

Ep(x)

+

The Hole

The hole can be

understood as an

electron with negative

effective mass

An electron near the top

of an energy band will

have a negative

effective mass

A negatively charged

particle with a negative

mass will be accelerated

like a positive particle

with a positive mass

(a hole!)

E(K)

p/a

F = m*a = QE

hole cannot exist. It is an artifact

of the periodic potential (Ep)

created by the crystal.

E(K)

E(x)

conduction band

EC

EV

Eg

+

valence band

K

p/a

of electron-hole pairs

E(x)

conduction band

EC

EV

+

valence band

Non-cubic lattices:

(FCC, BCC, diamond, etc.)

E(Kx)

E(Ky)

y

x

Kx

p/a

Ky

p/b

and effective masses that depend on the direction of motion.

Memory Aid

a hairpin is lighter than a frying pan

light m*

(larger d2E/dK2)

heavy m*

(smaller d2E/dK2)

Notes on E(K)

The extrema for the conduction and valence

bands are at different values of K for silicon

and germanium

these are called indirect bandgap semiconductors

band maximum both occur at K=0 for GaAs

this is called a direct bandgap semiconductor

Light Emission

energy (E) and momentum (K) must be conserved

energy is released when a quasi-free electron

recombines with a hole in the valence band:

DE = Eg

does this energy produce light (photon) or heat (phonon)?

but for a direct bandgap: DK=0

but lattice vibrations (heat, phonons) have large

momentum

light in direct bandgap materials (GaAs, GaN, etc)

heat in indirect bandgap materials (Si, Ge)

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