Dr. Jörg Schwartz, firstname.lastname@example.org
CLAYTON SOUTH and MELBOURNE, Australia, & PADUA, Italy – Printing techniques that already
have been incorporated into solar cell manufacturing could prove useful for the
production of lasers and other emitting optoelectronic devices, according to researchers
from Australia and Italy.
Quantum dots are semiconductors whose conduction characteristics
are closely related to the size and shape of the individual crystal. This means
that with decreasing crystal size, the bandgap gets larger. The bandgap determines
the energy needed to excite the dot – or the energy that is released when
the crystal returns to its resting state. In fluorescent dye applications, this
equates to higher frequencies of light emitted after excitation of the dot as the
crystal size grows smaller, resulting in a color shift from red to blue in the light
emitted. The big advantage in using quantum dots as semiconductors is that, because
of the high level of control over the size of the crystals produced, it is possible
to have very precise control of conduction and emission properties.
Quantum dot inks make different colors, depending on the size of
the crystals. Images courtesy of Raffaella Signorini, University of Padua.
This led the scientists to set out making cheaper, more versatile
lasers. “Creating cheaper lasers relies heavily on progress in materials science,”
said researcher Jacek Jasieniak of CSIRO, the Australian Commonwealth Scientific
and Industrial Research Organization. “At present, lasers are manufactured
using expensive materials and production techniques. To make them more cost-effective,
we have focused on developing materials that are cheap, function well as lasers,
and can be printed. Quantum dots meet all these requirements.”
Conventional lasers cannot be used for printable nanolasers because
they require large optical cavities, so the researchers used a patterned surface
for the printing (a). Repetitive grooves on the surface act as little resonators
However, to make a laser, both an active medium and a cavity are
required. Making lasers that can be spread over wide areas takes many small cavities.
“Conventional lasers use large optical cavities which make them impossible
to use for printable … nanometer-size lasers,” Jasieniak said. Therefore,
a patterned surface is used for the printing, and the repetitive grooves in this
surface, reflecting the light at the interfaces, become little resonators. A major
benefit of these nano-structured optical cavities is that they can be produced during
the printing process by controlled indentation or scratching of the material’s
A prototype quantum lasing device.
Jasieniak’s work, performed jointly with his colleagues
at CSIRO and the University of Melbourne in Australia and at the University of Padua
in Italy, was recently presented for the first time in public through Fresh Science,
a communication boot camp for early-career scientists held in Melbourne.
The potential of printable optoelectronic devices could be tremendous,
reaching from flat emissive lighting panels to new types of televisions and displays,
and to a wide range of fields in computers, electronics and sensors. For this vision
to be realized, however, a little more work is needed. Currently, the printable
lasers are optically pumped, and the big goal is to make them electrically driven