Photoluminescence in nano-needles

Apr 22, 2008

Silicon is the workhorse among semiconductors in electronics. But in opto-electronics, where light signals are processed along with electronic signals, a semiconductor that is capable of emitting light is needed, which silicon can't do very well. Here gallium-arsenide (GaAs) is the workhorse, especially in the creation of light emitting diodes (LED) and LED lasers.

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have now grown GaAs structures into the shape of narrow needles which, when optically pumped, emit light with high brightness. The needles are approximately 3 to 4 microns long and taper at an angle of 6 to 9 degrees down to tips approximately 2 to 5 nanometers across.

These needles are not yet lasers; creating them will be the next step. This represents the first time a lab has been able to fashion GaAs into a defect-free crystal structure (technical name: wurtzite) exactly like this on a silicon substrate and without the use of catalysts.

Lead researcher Michael Moewe says that, in addition to optoelectronic devices, he expects the needles to be valuable in such applications as atomic force microscopy (AFM), where the sharp tips can be grown in arrays without further etching or processing steps. Some believe that AFM arrays, besides speeding up the recording of nearly atomic-resolution images of surfaces (allowing one to create atomic movies), might be used to create a new form of data storage by influencing the atoms in the sample. The needles also may be used in producing tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy.

Raman spectroscopy is a process in which the energy levels of molecules are determined by shining light at a known frequency into the sample and then observing the frequency of the outgoing light. Delivering light from a sharp tip allows a much more targeted examination of the sample, possibly even permitting the spectroscopic study of single molecules.

The research will be presented at the 2008 Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics/Quantum Electronics and Laser Science Conference (CLEO/QELS) May 4-9 at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, Calif.

Source: Optical Society of America

Explore further: Toward making lithium-sulfur batteries a commercial reality for a bigger energy punch

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New particle-sorting method breaks speed records

Jun 24, 2014

Researchers compare the processing of biological fluid samples with searching for a needle in a haystack—only in this case, the haystack could be diagnostic samples, and the needle might be tumor cells ...

Recommended for you

For electronics beyond silicon, a new contender emerges

Sep 16, 2014

Silicon has few serious competitors as the material of choice in the electronics industry. Yet transistors, the switchable valves that control the flow of electrons in a circuit, cannot simply keep shrinking ...

Making quantum dots glow brighter

Sep 16, 2014

Researchers from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the University of Oklahoma have found a new way to control the properties of quantum dots, those tiny chunks of semiconductor material that glow ...

The future face of molecular electronics

Sep 16, 2014

The emerging field of molecular electronics could take our definition of portable to the next level, enabling the construction of tiny circuits from molecular components. In these highly efficient devices, ...

Study sheds new light on why batteries go bad

Sep 14, 2014

A comprehensive look at how tiny particles in a lithium ion battery electrode behave shows that rapid-charging the battery and using it to do high-power, rapidly draining work may not be as damaging as researchers ...

User comments : 0