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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Solving the Bethe-Salpeter equation on a subspace: Approximations and consequences for low-dimensional materials


It is well known that the ambient environment can dramatically renormalize the quasiparticle gap and exciton binding energies in low-dimensional materials, but the effect of the environment on the energy splitting of the spin-singlet and spin-triplet exciton states is less understood. A prominent effect is the renormalization of the exciton binding energy and optical strength (and hence the optical spectrum) through additional screening of the direct Coulomb term describing the attractive electron-hole interaction in the kernel of the Bethe-Salpeter equation. The repulsive exchange interaction responsible for the singlet-triplet splitting, on the other hand, is unscreened within formal many-body perturbation theory. However, Benedict argued that in practical calculations restricted to a subspace of the full Hilbert space, the exchange interaction should be appropriately screened by states outside of the subspace, the so-called S approximation [L. X. Benedict, Phys. Rev. B 66, 193105 (2002)PRBMDO0163-182910.1103/PhysRevB.66.193105]. Here, we systematically explore the accuracy of the S approximation for different confined systems, including a molecule and heterostructures of semiconducting and metallic layered materials. We show that the S approximation is actually exact in the limit of small exciton binding energies (i.e., small direct term) and can be used to significantly accelerate convergence of the exciton energies with respect to the number of empty states, provided that a particular effective screening consistent with the conventional Tamm-Dancoff approximation is employed. We further find that the singlet-triplet splitting in the energy of the excitons is largely unaffected by the external dielectric environment for most quasi-two-dimensional materials.

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