Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Break Light Modulation Speed Record - Twice

16.06.2009
Researchers have constructed a light-emitting transistor that has set a new record with a signal-processing modulation speed of 4.3 gigahertz, breaking the previous record of 1.7 gigahertz held by a light-emitting diode.

But, the researchers didn’t stop there. By internally connecting the base and collector of a light-emitting transistor, they created a new form of light-emitting diode, which modulates at up to 7 gigahertz, breaking the speed record once again.

In a pair of papers published in the June 15 issue of Applied Physics Letters, researchers at the University of Illinois and at U. of I. licensee Quantum Electro Opto Systems in Melaka, Malaysia, report the fabrication and testing of the new high-speed light-emitting transistor and the new “tilted-charge” light-emitting diode.

“Simple in design and construction, the tilted-charge light-emitting diode offers an attractive alternative for use in high-speed signal processing, optical communication systems and integrated optoelectronics,” said Nick Holonyak Jr., a John Bardeen Chair Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics at Illinois, and a co-author of both papers.

The modulation speed of either a light-emitting diode or a light-emitting transistor is limited by the rate at which electrons and holes (the minus and plus charges – the carriers of current) recombine. The recombination lifetime is important in determining device speed.

With a usual “slow” recombination process, the speed of a light-emitting diode is limited to approximately 1.7 gigahertz, which corresponds to a carrier lifetime of 100 picoseconds. For more than 40 years, scientists thought breaking the 100-picosecond barrier was impossible.

Recombination speeds of less than 100 picoseconds are not readily achieved in light-emitting diodes because equal number densities of electrons and holes are injected into the active region to preserve charge neutrality, said Holonyak, who invented the first practical visible light-emitting diode more than 40 years ago.

These charges become stuck, stacked-up waiting to recombine, Holonyak said. To achieve high recombination speeds, an extremely high injection level and a very high charge population are required in light-emitting diodes. These conditions are not necessary in transistors, however.

“Unlike a diode, a transistor does not store charge,” said Milton Feng, the Holonyak Chair Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and a co-author of the two papers. “Charges are delivered to the transistor’s quantum well active region, where they either recombine almost instantly, or they are kept moving on out of the device. The charges do not become stacked-up, waiting to recombine with their oppositely charged twins.”

To increase the modulation speed of their light-emitting transistor, the researchers reduced the emitter size, increased the so-called collector thickness (the third terminal region), and utilized a special internal common collector design. These changes resulted in a faster signal at a very low current level, and at low heat dissipation.

Having a “fast” recombination process, the modulation speed of the light-emitting transistor was measured at 4.3 gigahertz, which corresponds to a recombination lifetime of 37 picoseconds, well under the “100-picosecond barrier.”

“In the light-emitting transistor, the third terminal – the collector – effectively ‘tilts’ the charge and removes carriers with slower recombination lifetimes,” said Holonyak, who also is a professor in the university’s Center for Advanced Study, one of the highest forms of campus recognition.

“As opposed to the charge ‘pile-up’ condition found in a normal diode, the dynamic ‘tilted’ charge flow condition in the transistor base is maintained with the collector in competition with the base recombination process,” Holonyak said. “If the charge doesn’t recombine and generate a photon fast enough, it is swept away by the current in the collector.”

By preventing the build-up of “slow” charges in the base, the “fast” picosecond recombination dynamics also provided the basis for the researchers’ light-emitting transistor rewired internally as a new type of light-emitting diode.

The tilted-charge light-emitting diode achieved a record-breaking modulation speed of 7 gigahertz, corresponding to a recombination lifetime of 23 picoseconds.

“The tilted-charge light-emitting diode is simple to make, low cost, and easy to package and use,” Holonyak said.

Because of the tilted base population in the device, current flow, which is a function of the slope of the charge distribution, makes possible high current densities without requiring extreme carrier densities.

“That’s the trick of the transistor,” Holonyak said. “And now we’ve incorporated it into a diode. The physics has been there all along. It just wasn’t recognized.”

With Feng and Holonyak, co-authors of the paper are lead author Gabriel Walter (chief executive officer at Quantum Electro Opto Systems), and graduate students Chao-Hsin Wu and Han Wui Then.

Funding was provided by the U.S. Army Research Office and the Brain Gain Malaysia Diaspora Program. Device fabrication and testing was performed at the university’s Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory.

Quantum Electro Opto Systems is a company formed by Walter, Feng and Holonyak to commercialize the light-emitting transistor and tilted-charge light-emitting diode technology.

James E. Kloeppel | University of Illinois
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation
12.12.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik

nachricht Telescopes team up to study giant galaxy
12.12.2017 | International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research

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: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multi-year submarine-canyon study challenges textbook theories about turbidity currents

12.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

12.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Liver Cancer: Lipid Synthesis Promotes Tumor Formation

12.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>