Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Brief Introduction to Band Structure in Three Dimensions

This is a very handy and quick tutorial on the calculation of band structure in solids. It's useful to see how QM principles is applied to our understanding of solids such as semiconductors, etc. which leads to our ability to know how to make our modern electronics.

Abstract: Without our ability to model and manipulate the band structure of semiconducting materials, the modern digital computer would be impractically large, hot, and expensive. In the undergraduate QM curriculum, we studied the effect of spatially periodic potentials on the spectrum of a charged particle in one dimension. We would like to understand how to extend these methods to model actual crystalline materials. Along the way, we will explore the construction of periodic potentials in three dimensions, and we use this framework to relate the single-particle Hamiltonian to the potential contribution from each atom. We then construct a crude model system analogous to the semiconductor silicon, and demonstrate the appearance of level splitting and band gaps as the strength of the potential is varied, in accordance with our intuition from the one-dimensional case. We discuss refinements of the model to include many-particle effects, and finally we show how a careful choice of the potential function leads to good agreement with the correct band diagram for silicon.


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