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Much of the research in our group is focused on quantum aspects of the interaction of light with matter.

Energy momentum

In some problems it is the quantum mechanical nature of matter that is important, such as when we are trying to understand the nonlinear optical response of semiconductors in terms of their band structures, or when we are exploring novel "quantum interference" processes. These processes involve the interference of two or more pathways, analogous to the interference of two different trajectories in the familiar double-slit experiment, and can be exploited by experimentalists to "coherently control" the effect of light on bulk materials or nanostructures. By combining different polarizations of an incident beam, or different incident beams, it is possible to control the number of carriers that are injected, to inject the carriers with a large and controllable average velocity, and to control the spins of injected carriers. Spinbattery Indeed, one can even induce a "pure spin current," in which carriers that are "spin up" are injected in one direction, and carriers that are "spin down" in the opposite direction. Processes like this may be of interest in applications in electronics as well as in "spintronics," the new field of work directed towards using the spin degree of freedom of carriers in information processing. Others are interested in their use in metrology, since they can be used to detect and stabilize the carrier-envelope phase in a pulse of just a few cycles. These effects are also leading to new studies in the transport of carriers in crystals and nanostructures, and they can serve as a probe of novel phenomena such as the spin Hall effect. New behaviour can now be explored, and a theoretical description of much of it is still lacking.


© UofT 2006

The Department of Physics
The Faculty of Arts & Science
University of Toronto