The occurrence of instability-driven polariton density patterns in semiconductor quantum-well microcavities has been predicted and demonstrated experimentally. Simulations have shown that different patterns can become dominant under variations of excitation and structural conditions. We have devised and analyzed low-dimensional models to help understand the physics underlying these patterns’ competition. This paper reviews the results of these model studies, mainly on optical switching of the patterns. We also present results on how the control beam strength required for switching and the time scale of switching vary with physical parameters.
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