Silicon nanoparticles to replace expensive semiconductors

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Physicists at the Moscow State University (MSU) found a way to ‘force’ silicon nanoparticles to glow in response to radiation with enough strength to replace semiconductors used in displays. According to MSU researcher, Maxim Shcherbakov, pictured, the method enhances the efficiency of nanoparticle photoluminescence.

Today, various semiconductors are used, including CdSe, for quantum-dot based displays. Because these materials are toxic and expensive, researchers have been eyeing the cheaper and better studied silicon. Silicon nanoparticles, however, only vaguely respond to radiation.

To counter this problem, post-doctoral MSU researcher Sergey Dyakov suggested placing an array of silicon nanoparticles in a matrix with a non-homogeneous dielectric medium and covering it with golden nanostripes.

“The heterogeneity of the environment, as has been previously shown in other experiments, allows the increase of the photoluminescence of silicon by several orders of magnitude due to quantum confinement,” said Shcherbakov. “However, the efficiency of the light interaction with nanocrystals still remains insufficient.”

The team is enhancing efficiency with a plasmon lattice formed by the golden nanostripes, which ‘hold’ light and allow a more effective interaction with nearby nanoparticles, increasing luminescence.