Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Gary L. Findley

Second Advisor

Sean P. McGlynn


In this dissertation, an empirical quantum defect approach to describe the valence excitons of the rare gas solids is developed. These Coulomb states are of s-symmetry and form a hydrogen-like series which converges to the bottom of the lowest conduction band. A non-zero quantum defect is found for all of the excitons of neon, argon and xenon. For these systems, then, there exists, in addition to the screened Coulombic component, a non-Coulombic component to the total exciton binding energy. The Wannier formalism is, therefore, inappropriate for the excitons of Ne, Ar and Xe. From the sign of the quantum defect, the non-Coulombic potential is repulsive for Ne and Ar, attractive for Xe, and nearly zero for Kr. This is opposite to that for the Rydberg states of the corresponding rare gas atoms, where the non-Coulombic potential between the electron and the cation is attractive for all of the atoms. The excitons then, are not simply perturbed Rydberg states of the corresponding rare gas atoms (i.e., the excitons do not possess atomic parentage). Interatomic term value/band gap energy correlations and reduced term value/reduced band gap correlations were performed. These correlations were exploited to provide further evidence against both the Wannier formalism and the atomic parentage viewpoint. From these correlations, it was also discovered that the non-Coulombic potential varies smoothly across the valence isoelectronic series of solids, and that it becomes more attractive (or less repulsive) in going from neon to xenon. In order to address the atomic parentage controversy, it was necessary to compare the excitons to the low-n Rydberg states of the rare gas atoms. A review of the quantum defect description of the atomic Rydberg states is, therefore, presented. Also, Rydberg term value/ionization energy correlations are discussed and compared with the analogous exciton correlations. One major result of this dissertation is an unambiguous validation of the following statement: Atomic Rydberg states do not evolve into excitons as a function of rare gas number density.