The work, reported this week in the online Nature Communications, is a step toward biomedical devices with active components made from nanostructured systems.
Embedding nanocrystals in glass provides a way to create UV-producing LEDs for biomedical applications. Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory
As a result, they can be used in harsh environments, such as for immersion into physiologic solutions, or by implantation directly into the body. This was made possible by designing a new synthesis strategy that allows fabrication of all inorganic LEDs via a wet-chemistry approach, i.e. a series of simple chemical reactions in a beaker. Importantly, this approach is scalable to industrial quantities with a very low start-up cost. Finally, they emit in the ultraviolet region thanks to careful design of the nanocrystals embedded in the glass.
In traditional light-emitting diodes, light emission occurs at the sharp interface between two semiconductors. The oxide-in-oxide design used here is different, as it allows production of a material that behaves as an ensemble of semiconductor junctions distributed in the glass.
This new concept is based on a collection of the most advanced strategies in nanocrystal science, combining the advantages of nanometric materials consisting of more than one component. In this case the active part of the device consists of tin dioxide nanocrystals covered with a shell of tin monoxide embedded in standard glass: by tuning the shell thickness is it possible to control the electrical response of the whole material.
The paper was produced with the financial support of Cariplo Foundation, Italy, under Project 20060656, the Russian Federation under grant 11.G34.31.0027, the Silvio Tronchetti Provera Foundation, and Los Alamos National Laboratory's Directed Research and Development Program.
4. On leave from Photonic Corp, Culver City, California
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