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Nat Mater. 2005 Feb;4(2):143-6. Epub 2005 Jan 23.

Field-effect electroluminescence in silicon nanocrystals.

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Thomas J. Watson Laboratories of Applied Physics, MS 128-95, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA. <>


There is currently worldwide interest in developing silicon-based active optical components in order to leverage the infrastructure of silicon microelectronics technology for the fabrication of optoelectronic devices. Light emission in bulk silicon-based devices is constrained in wavelength to infrared emission, and in efficiency by the indirect bandgap of silicon. One promising strategy for overcoming these challenges is to make use of quantum-confined excitonic emission in silicon nanocrystals. A critical challenge for silicon nanocrystal devices based on nanocrystals embedded in silicon dioxide has been the development of a method for efficient electrical carrier injection. We report here a scheme for electrically pumping dense silicon nanocrystal arrays by a field-effect electroluminescence mechanism. In this excitation process, electrons and holes are both injected from the same semiconductor channel across a tunnelling barrier in a sequential programming process, in contrast to simultaneous carrier injection in conventional pn-junction light-emitting-diode structures. Light emission is strongly correlated with the injection of a second carrier into a nanocrystal that has been previously programmed with a charge of the opposite sign.


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