Semiconductor microcavities, in which strong coupling of excitons to confined photon modes leads to the formation of exciton-polariton modes, have increasingly become a focus for the study of spontaneous coherence, lasing, and condensation in solid state systems. This review discusses the significant experimental progress to date, the phenomena associated with coherence which have been observed, and also discusses in some detail the different theoretical models that have been used to study such systems. We consider both the case of non-resonant pumping, in which coherence may spontaneously arise, and the related topics of resonant pumping, and the optical parametric oscillator.
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