Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Laser light at useful wavelengths from semiconductor nanowires

05.12.2013
Nanowire lasers could work with silicon chips, optical fibers, even living cells

Thread-like semiconductor structures called nanowires, so thin that they are effectively one-dimensional, show potential as lasers for applications in computing, communications, and sensing.


This micrograph shows a forest of III-V semiconductor nanowires standing, as grown, on a silicon substrate.

Credit: WSI/TUM

Scientists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) have demonstrated laser action in semiconductor nanowires that emit light at technologically useful wavelengths and operate at room temperature. They now have documented this breakthrough in the journal Nature Communications and, in Nano Letters, have disclosed further results showing enhanced optical and electronic performance.

"Nanowire lasers could represent the next step in the development of smaller, faster, more energy-efficient sources of light," says Prof. Jonathan Finley, director of TUM's Walter Schottky Institute. Potential applications include on-chip optical interconnects or even optical transistors to speed up computers, integrated optoelectronics for fiber-optic communications, and laser arrays with steerable beams. "But nanowires are also a bit special," Finley adds, "in that they are very sensitive to their surroundings, have a large surface-to-volume ratio, and are small enough, for example, to poke into a biological cell." Thus nanowire lasers could also prove useful in environmental and biological sensing.

These experimental nanowire lasers emit light in the near-infrared, approaching the "sweet spot" for fiber-optic communications. They can be grown directly on silicon, presenting opportunities for integrated photonics and optoelectronics. And they operate at room temperature, a prerequisite for real-world applications.

Tailored in the lab, with an eye toward industry

Tiny as they are – a thousand times thinner than a human hair – the nanowire lasers demonstrated at TUM have a complex "core-shell" cross-section with a profile of differing semiconductor materials tailored virtually atom by atom.

The nanowires' tailored core-shell structure enables them to act both as lasers, generating coherent pulses of light, and as waveguides, similar to optical fibers. Like conventional communication lasers, these nanowires are made of so-called III-V semiconductors, materials with the right "bandgap" to emit light in the near-infrared. A unique advantage, Finley explains, is that the nanowire geometry is "more forgiving than bulk crystals or films, allowing you to combine materials that you normally can't combine." Because the nanowires arise from a base only tens to hundreds of nanometers in diameter, they can be grown directly on silicon chips in a way that alleviates restrictions due to crystal lattice mismatch – thus yielding high-quality material with the potential for high performance.

Put these characteristics together, and it becomes possible to imagine a path from applied research to a variety of future applications. A number of significant challenges remain, however. For example, laser emission from the TUM nanowires was stimulated by light – as were the nanowire lasers reported almost simultaneously by a team at the Australian National University – yet practical applications are likely to require electrically injected devices.

Nanowire lasers: a technological frontier with bright prospects

The newly published results are largely due to a team of scientists who are beginning their careers, under the guidance of Dr. Gregor Koblmueller and other senior researchers, at the frontier of a new field. Doctoral candidates including Benedikt Mayer, Daniel Rudolph, Stefanie Morkötter and Julian Treu combined their efforts, working together on photonic design, material growth, and characterization using electron microscopy with atomic resolution.

Ongoing research is directed toward better understanding the physical phenomena at work in such devices as well as toward creating electrically injected nanowire lasers, optimizing their performance, and integrating them with platforms for silicon photonics.

"At present very few labs in the world have the capability to grow nanowire materials and devices with the precision required," says co-author Prof. Gerhard Abstreiter, founder of the Walter Schottky Institute and director of the TUM Institute for Advanced Study. "And yet," he explains, "our processes and designs are compatible with industrial production methods for computing and communications. Experience shows that today's hero experiment can become tomorrow's commercial technology, and often does."

This research was supported in part by the German Excellence Initiative through the TUM Institute for Advanced Study and the Excellence Cluster Nanosystems Initiative Munich (NIM); by the German Research Foundation (DFG) through Collaborative Research Center SFB 631; by the European Union through a Marie Curie European Reintegration Grant, the QUROPE project SOLID, and the EU-MC network INDEX; by a CINECA award under the ISCRA initiative; and by a grant from Generalitat Valenciana.

Publications:

Lasing from individual GaAs-AlGaAs core-shell nanowires up to room temperature. Benedikt Mayer, Daniel Rudolph, Joscha Schnell, Stefanie Morkoetter, Julia Winnerl, Julian Treu, Kai Mueller, Gregor Bracher, Gerhard Abstreiter, Gregor Koblmueller, and Jonathan J. Finley. Nature Communications, 5 Dec. 2013. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3931

High mobility one- and two-dimensional electron systems in nanowire-based quantum heterostructures. Stefan Funk, Miguel Royo, Ilaria Zardo, Daniel Rudolph, Stefanie Morkoetter, Benedikt Mayer, Jonathan Becker, Alexander Bechtold, Sonja Matich, Markus Doeblinger, Max Bichler, G. Koblmueller, Jonathan J. Finley, Andrea Bertoni, Guido Goldoni, and Gerhard Abstreiter. Nano Letters Just Accepted Manuscript, 25 Nov. 2013. DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1021/nl403561w

Enhanced luminescence properties of InAs-InAsP core-shell nanowires. Julian Treu, Michael Bormann, Hannes Schmeiduch, Markus Doeblinger, Stefanie Morkoetter, Sonja Matich, Peter Wiecha, Kai Saller, Benedikt Mayer, Max Bichler, Markus Christian Amann, Jonathan Finley, Gerhard Abstreiter, and G. Koblmueller. Nano Letters Just Accepted Manuscript, 25 Nov. 2013. DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1021/nl403341x

Contact:

Prof. Jonathan Finley
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Walter Schottky Institute
Am Coulombwall 4
85748 Garching, Germany
Tel: +49 89 289 12770
jonathan.finley@wsi.tum.de
http://www.wsi.tum.de/
Prof. Gerhard Abstreiter
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
TUM Institute for Advanced Study
Lichtenbergstrasse 2 a
85748 Garching, Germany
Tel: +49 89 289 10555
gerhard.abstreiter@zv.tum.de
http://www.tum-ias.de/
Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) is one of Europe's leading research universities, with around 500 professors, 10,000 academic and non-academic staff, and 35,000 students. Its focus areas are the engineering sciences, natural sciences, life sciences and medicine, reinforced by schools of management and education. TUM acts as an entrepreneurial university that promotes talents and creates value for society. In that it profits from having strong partners in science and industry. It is represented worldwide with a campus in Singapore as well as offices in Brussels, Cairo, Mumbai, Beijing, and Sao Paulo. Nobel Prize winners and inventors such as Rudolf Diesel and Carl von Linde have done research at TUM. In 2006 and 2012 it won recognition as a German "Excellence University." In international rankings, TUM regularly places among the best universities in Germany.

Patrick Regan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.tum.de

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Seeing the quantum future... literally
16.01.2017 | University of Sydney

nachricht Airborne thermometer to measure Arctic temperatures
11.01.2017 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>