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Nature. 2004 Oct 14;431(7010):826-9.

Metal-insulator-semiconductor optoelectronic fibres.

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Research Laboratory of Electronics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


The combination of conductors, semiconductors and insulators with well-defined geometries and at prescribed length scales, while forming intimate interfaces, is essential in most functional electronic and optoelectronic devices. These are typically produced using a variety of elaborate wafer-based processes, which allow for small features, but are restricted to planar geometries and limited coverage area. In contrast, the technique of fibre drawing from a preformed reel or tube is simpler and yields extended lengths of highly uniform fibres with well-controlled geometries and good optical transport characteristics. So far, this technique has been restricted to particular materials and larger features. Here we report on the design, fabrication and characterization of fibres made of conducting, semiconducting and insulating materials in intimate contact and in a variety of geometries. We demonstrate that this approach can be used to construct a tunable fibre photodetector comprising an amorphous semiconductor core contacted by metallic microwires, and surrounded by a cylindrical-shell resonant optical cavity. Such a fibre is sensitive to illumination along its entire length (tens of meters), thus forming a photodetecting element of dimensionality one. We also construct a grid of such fibres that can identify the location of an illumination point. The advantage of this type of photodetector array is that it needs a number of elements of only order N, in contrast to the conventional order N2 for detector arrays made of photodetecting elements of dimensionality zero.

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