Optical Hall effect-model description: Tutorial

Mathias Schubert, Philipp Kühne, Vanya Darakchieva, Tino Hofmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The optical Hall effect is a physical phenomenon that describes the occurrence of magnetic-field-induced dielectric displacement at optical wavelengths, transverse and longitudinal to the incident electric field, and analogous to the static electrical Hall effect. The electrical Hall effect and certain cases of the optical Hall effect observations can be explained by extensions of the classic Drude model for the transport of electrons in metals. The optical Hall effect is most useful for characterization of electrical properties in semiconductors. Among many advantages, while the optical Hall effect dispenses with the need of electrical contacts, electrical material properties such as effective mass and mobility parameters, including their anisotropy as well as carrier type and density, can be determined from the optical Hall effect. Measurement of the optical Hall effect can be performed within the concept of generalized ellipsometry at an oblique angle of incidence. In this paper, we review and discuss physical model equations, which can be used to calculate the optical Hall effect in single-and multiple-layered structures of semiconductor materials. We define the optical Hall effect dielectric function tensor, demonstrate diagonalization approaches, and show requirements for the optical Hall effect tensor from energy conservation. We discuss both continuum and quantum approaches, and we provide a brief description of the generalized ellipsometry concept, the Mueller matrix calculus, and a 4 × 4 matrix algebra to calculate data accessible by experiment. In a follow-up paper, we will discuss strategies and approaches for experimental data acquisition and analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1553-1568
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Optical Society of America A: Optics and Image Science, and Vision
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition


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