Columbia Engineers and colleagues create bright, visible light emission from one-atom thick carbon
Led by Young Duck Kim, a postdoctoral research scientist in James Hone’s group at Columbia Engineering, a team of scientists from Columbia, Seoul National University (SNU), and Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS) reported today that they have demonstrated—for the first time—an on-chip visible light source using graphene, an atomically thin and perfectly crystalline form of carbon, as a filament.
They attached small strips of graphene to metal electrodes, suspended the strips above the substrate, and passed a current through the filaments to cause them to heat up. The study, “Bright Visible Light Emission from Graphene,” is published in the Advance Online Publication (AOP) on Nature Nanotechnology's website on June 15.
“We’ve created what is essentially the world’s thinnest light bulb,” says Hone, Wang Fon-Jen Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia Engineering and co-author of the study. “This new type of ‘broadband’ light emitter can be integrated into chips and will pave the way towards the realization of atomically thin, flexible, and transparent displays, and graphene-based on-chip optical communications.”
Creating light in small structures on the surface of a chip is crucial for developing fully integrated “photonic” circuits that do with light what is now done with electric currents in semiconductor integrated circuits. Researchers have developed many approaches to do this, but have not yet been able to put the oldest and simplest artificial light source—the incandescent light bulb—onto a chip.
This is primarily because light bulb filaments must be extremely hot—thousands of degrees Celsius—in order to glow in the visible range and micro-scale metal wires cannot withstand such temperatures. In addition, heat transfer from the hot filament to its surroundings is extremely efficient at the microscale, making such structures impractical and leading to damage of the surrounding chip.
By measuring the spectrum of the light emitted from the graphene, the team was able to show that the graphene was reaching temperatures of above 2500 degrees Celsius, hot enough to glow brightly. “The visible light from atomically thin graphene is so intense that it is visible even to the naked eye, without any additional magnification,” explains Young Duck Kim, first and co-lead author on the paper and postdoctoral research scientist who works in Hone’s group at Columbia Engineering.
Interestingly, the spectrum of the emitted light showed peaks at specific wavelengths, which the team discovered was due to interference between the light emitted directly from the graphene and light reflecting off the silicon substrate and passing back through the graphene. Kim notes, “This is only possible because graphene is transparent, unlike any conventional filament, and allows us to tune the emission spectrum by changing the distance to the substrate.”
The ability of graphene to achieve such high temperatures without melting the substrate or the metal electrodes is due to another interesting property: as it heats up, graphene becomes a much poorer conductor of heat. This means that the high temperatures stay confined to a small “hot spot” in the center.
“At the highest temperatures, the electron temperature is much higher than that of acoustic vibrational modes of the graphene lattice, so that less energy is needed to attain temperatures needed for visible light emission,” Myung-Ho Bae, a senior researcher at KRISS and co-lead author, observes. “These unique thermal properties allow us to heat the suspended graphene up to half of temperature of the sun, and improve efficiency 1000 times, as compared to graphene on a solid substrate.”
The team also demonstrated the scalability of their technique by realizing large-scale of arrays of chemical-vapor-deposited (CVD) graphene light emitters.
Yun Daniel Park, professor in the department of physics and astronomy at Seoul National University and co-lead author, notes that they are working with the same material that Thomas Edison used when he invented the incandescent light bulb: “Edison originally used carbon as a filament for his light bulb and here we are going back to the same element, but using it in its pure form—graphene—and at its ultimate size limit—one atom thick.”
The group is currently working to further characterize the performance of these devices —for example, how fast they can be turned on and off to create “bits” for optical communications—and to develop techniques for integrating them into flexible substrates.
Hone adds, “We are just starting to dream about other uses for these structures—for example, as micro-hotplates that can be heated to thousands of degrees in a fraction of a second to study high-temperature chemical reactions or catalysis.”
The research was conducted by researchers from Columbia Engineering, Seoul National University, Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science, Konkuk University, Sogang University, Sejong University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Stanford University.
This work was supported by the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science under the auspices of the project ‘Convergent Science and Technology for Measurements at the Nanoscale’ (15011053), grants from the National Research Foundation of Korea (2014-023563, NRF-2008-0061906, NRF-2013R1A1A1076141, NRF-2012M3C1A1048861, 2011-0017605, BSR-2012R1A2A2A01045496 and NMTD-2012M3A7B4049888) funded by the Korea government (MSIP), a grant (2011-0031630) from the Center for Advanced Soft Electronics through the Global Frontier Research Program of MSIP, the Priority Research Center Program (2012-0005859), a grant (2011-0030786) from the Center for Topological Matters at POSTECH, the NSF (DMR-1122594), AFOSR (FA95550-09-0705), ONR (N00014-13-1-0662), Army Research Office (ARO) grant W911NF-13-1-0471 and the Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship (QInF) 2013.
PAPER—"Bright Visible Light Emission from Graphene”: The DOI for the paper will be 10.1038/nnano.2015.118. Once the paper is published electronically, the DOI can be used to retrieve the abstract and full text from the Nature website by adding it to the following url: http://dx.doi.org/ .
Holly Evarts | newswise
Simple processing technique could cut cost of organic PV and wearable electronics
06.12.2016 | Georgia Institute of Technology
InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light
05.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering