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Nature. 2001 Mar 8;410(6825):192-4.

An efficient room-temperature silicon-based light-emitting diode.

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  • 1School of Electronic Engineering, Information Technology & Mathematics, University of Surrey, Guilford, UK.


There is an urgent requirement for an optical emitter that is compatible with standard, silicon-based ultra-large-scale integration (ULSI) technology. Bulk silicon has an indirect energy bandgap and is therefore highly inefficient as a light source, necessitating the use of other materials for the optical emitters. However, the introduction of these materials is usually incompatible with the strict processing requirements of existing ULSI technologies. Moreover, as the length scale of the devices decreases, electrons will spend increasingly more of their time in the connections between components; this interconnectivity problem could restrict further increases in computer chip processing power and speed in as little as five years. Many efforts have therefore been directed, with varying degrees of success, to engineering silicon-based materials that are efficient light emitters. Here, we describe the fabrication, using standard silicon processing techniques, of a silicon light-emitting diode (LED) that operates efficiently at room temperature. Boron is implanted into silicon both as a dopant to form a p-n junction, as well as a means of introducing dislocation loops. The dislocation loops introduce a local strain field, which modifies the band structure and provides spatial confinement of the charge carriers. It is this spatial confinement which allows room-temperature electroluminescence at the band-edge. This device strategy is highly compatible with ULSI technology, as boron ion implantation is already used as a standard method for the fabrication of silicon devices.

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