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After 50 Years of Effort, Researchers Made Silicon Emit Light


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This is the machine Eindhoven University of Technology physicist Erik Bakkers and his colleagues used to grow hexagonal silicon alloy nanowires.

A team of European researchers grew silicon alloy nanowires that can emit light.

Credit: Nando Harmsen/Eindhoven University of Technology


Researchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands say they have induced the emission of light from silicon.

Key to this achievement was using gallium arsenide nanowires as a framework to grow nanowires with a hexagonal silicon lattice, in order to enable photons to propagate through the material.

The researchers bombarded the nanowires with an infrared laser and quantified the amount of infrared light released, which was nearly equal to the amount of energy the laser pumped into the system.

Pascal Del’Hay at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light said the development is “a big breakthrough that they were able to demonstrate light emission from nanowires made of a silicon mixture, because these materials are compatible with the fabrication processes used in the computer chip industry. In the future, this might enable the production of microchips that combine both optical and electronic circuits.”

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