Graphene as a zero-bandgap semiconductor is an ideal model structure to study the carrier relaxation channels, which are inefficient in conventional semiconductors. In particular, it is of fundamental interest to address the question whether Auger-type processes significantly influence the carrier dynamics in graphene. These scattering channels bridge the valence and conduction band allowing carrier multiplication - a process that generates multiple charge carriers from the absorption of a single photon. This has been suggested in literature for improving the efficiency of solar cells. Here we show, based on microscopic calculations within the density matrix formalism, that Auger processes do play an unusually strong role for the relaxation dynamics of photo-excited charge carriers in graphene. We predict that a considerable carrier multiplication takes place, suggesting graphene as a new material for high-efficiency solar cells and for high-sensitivity photodetectors.
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