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David Snoke

University of Pittsburgh
Ph.D., Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1990

David Snoke received his B.A. in Physics from Cornell University and his Ph.D. also in Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Upon graduating, he moved to Stuttgart, Germany where the spent the next two and a half years as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute, one and a half years of which were as an Alexander von Humbolt Fellow. He then became a member of the technical staff of The Aerospace Corporation before finally joining the Department of Physics of the University of Pittsburgh in 1994. He was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2006.


Our experimental group uses a wide array of optical methods to study fundamental questions of quantum mechanics in semiconductor systems. Our optical methods include ultrafast spectroscopy on femtosecond and picosecond time scales, single photon counting and correlation, real-space and momentum space (Fourier) imaging with CCD cameras, and nonlinear optics such as two-photon absorption and the optical Stark effect. We can also apply variable stress to samples to create potential gradients to move particles inside solids, vary temperature down to cryogenic temperatures, and measure transport with electronics. 
One of the main efforts in our lab at present is the study of polariton condensates in microcavities. The polaritons are essentially photons dressed with an effective mass and strong interactions due to the special design of the solid-state microcavity structures we use. These interacting photons can undergo Bose-Einstein condensation, which is a state of matter with spontaneous coherence. We can see superfluid flow of the polariton condensate over millimeter distances; we can also trap the condensate in various potentials; and we can see interference due to the coherence of the condensate. 
This work connects to several fundamental questions. One topic is how coherence can occur spontaneously ("enphasing") in systems like lasers and condensates and how coherence is lost ("dephasing") in standard quantum systems.  This, in turn, relates to the deep question of why there is irreversibility in nature, that is, the arrow of time. Another topic is how phase transitions can occur in nonequilibrium systems. We have developed sophisticated numerical methods to compare  the solution of a quantum Boltzmann equation (which gives the temporal evolution of a system in nonequilibrium) to our data on the momentum and energy distributions of gases of various particles.
A new effort in our group is looking at using a polariton condensate to modulate the two-photon absorption in our samples. This may be used for special nonlinear effects in quantum computing schemes. We have also looked at spin flip and other dynamic processes of electrons and holes in quantum dots, dipolar excitons in quantum wells, and various methods of modulating light in semiconductor lasers and microcavities for applied optical communications goals. 


Title Position Email
Hassan Alnatah Graduate Student
Adam Grusky Undergraduate Student
Shouvik Mukherjee Graduate Student
David Myers Graduate Student
Burcu Ozden Postdoctoral Fellow
Mark Steger Graduate Student
Zheng Sun Postdoctoral Fellow
Qi Yao Graduate Student
Most Cited Publications

"Bose-einstein condensation." Allan Griffin, David W Snoke, Sandro Stringari. Cambridge University Press.
"Bose-Einstein condensation of microcavity polaritons in a trap." R Balili, V Hartwell, D Snoke, L Pfeiffer, K West. Science.
"Bose-Einstein condensation of excitons and biexcitons: and coherent nonlinear optics with excitons." Svâtoslav Anatol'evič Moskalenko, SA Moskalenko, DW Snoke. Cambridge University Press.
"Polariton lasing vs. photon lasing in a semiconductor microcavity." Hui Deng, Gregor Weihs, David Snoke, Jacqueline Bloch, Yoshihisa Yamamoto. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Spontaneous Bose coherence of excitons and polaritons." David Snoke. Science.

Recent Publications

"Solid state physics: Essential concepts." David Snoke. Cambridge University Press.
"Electric-field-induced optical hysteresis in single-layer WSe2." Zheng Sun, Jonathan Beaumariage, Ke Xu, Jierui Liang, Shaocong Hou, Stephen R Forrest, Susan K Fullerton-Shirey, David W Snoke. Applied Physics Letters.
"Effect of optically induced potential on the energy of trapped exciton polaritons below the condensation threshold." M Pieczarka, M Boozarjmehr, E Estrecho, Y Yoon, Mark Steger, K West, LN Pfeiffer, KA Nelson, DW Snoke, AG Truscott, EA Ostrovskaya. Physical Review B.
"Direct measurement of polariton-polariton interaction strength in the Thomas-Fermi regime of exciton-polariton condensation." E Estrecho, T Gao, N Bobrovska, D Comber-Todd, MD Fraser, Mark Steger, K West, LN Pfeiffer, J Levinsen, MM Parish, TCH Liew, M Matuszewski, DW Snoke, AG Truscott, EA Ostrovskaya. Physical Review B.
"Optical switching with organics." Zheng Sun, David W Snoke. Nature Photonics.