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Nat Mater. 2005 Dec;4(12):887-91. Epub 2005 Nov 20.

Optical gain and stimulated emission in periodic nanopatterned crystalline silicon.

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  • 1Division of Engineering and Department of Physics, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA.


Persistent efforts have been made to achieve efficient light emission from silicon in the hope of extending the reach of silicon technology into fully integrated optoelectronic circuits, meeting the needs for high-bandwidth intrachip and interchip connects. Enhanced light emission from silicon is known to be theoretically possible, enabled mostly through quantum-confinement effects. Furthermore, Raman-laser conversion was demonstrated in silicon waveguides. Here we report on optical gain and stimulated emission in uniaxially nanopatterned silicon-on-insulator using a nanopore array as an etching mask. In edge-emission measurements, we observed threshold behaviour, optical gain, longitudinal cavity modes and linewidth narrowing, along with a collimated far-field pattern, all indicative of amplification and stimulated emission. The sub-bandgap 1,278 nm emission peak is attributed to A-centre mediated phononless direct recombination between trapped electrons and free holes. The controlled nanoscale silicon engineering, combined with the low material loss in this sub-bandgap spectral range and the long electron lifetime in such A-type trapping centres, gives rise to the measured optical gain and stimulated emission and provides a new pathway to enhance light emission from silicon.

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