Silicon emission technologies based on nanocrystals

Lead Research Organisation: University of Surrey
Department Name: ATI Electronics


The global semiconductor market has a value of around $1trillion, over 90% of which is silicon based. In many senses silicon has driven the growth in the world economy for the last 40 years and has had an unparalleled cultural impact. Given the current level of commitment to silicon fabrication and its integration with other systems in terms of intellectual investment and foundry cost this is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future. Silicon is used in almost all electronic circuitry. However, there is one area of electronics that, at the moment, silicon cannnot be used to fill; that is in the emission of light. Silicon cannot normally emit light, but nearly all telecommunications and internet data transfer is currently done using light transmitted down fibre optics. So in everyones home signals are encoded by silicon and transmitted down wires to a station where other (expensive) components combine these signals and send light down fibres. If cheap silicon light emitters were available, the fibre optics could be brought into everyones homes and the data rate into and out of our homes would increase enormously. Also the connection between chips on circuit boards and even within chips could be performed using light instead of electricity. The applicants intend to form a consortium in the UK and to collaborate with international research groups to make silicon emit light using tiny clumps of silicon, called nanocrystals;. These nanocrystals can emit light in the visible and can be made to emit in the infrared by adding erbium atoms to them. A number of techniques available in Manchester, London and Guildford will be applied to such silicon chips to understand the light emission and to try to make silicon chips that emit light when electricity is passed through them. This will create a versatile silicon optical platform with applications in telecommunications, solar energy and secure communications. This technology would be commercialised by the applicants using a high tech start-up commpany.
Description Fabrication techniques for Si NC formation in oxide nitride materials system to optimize the luminescent properties of the NC
we were able to improve the incorporation of erbium into silicon oxide with applications to telecomms market. The use of Bismuth as a light emitter was shown to be ineffective due to out diffusion. The use of rapid thermal processing was shown to control the size of silicon nanocrystals and tune their emission wavelength
Exploitation Route Solid characterization data of influence of process conditions on the luminescent properties of NC films synthesized by ion implantation.
could be of use in the photovoltaic field, the process developed has been used by the US renewable energy laboratory for improved energy harvesting in Silicon based solar cells
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

Description The findings in this grant detail the fabrication conditions and doping strategy for Si NC material system for maximized luminescence.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Electronics,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Societal