Researchers Use Defective Nanotubes to Create Light Emitters
12 November 2013
Researchers at the University of the Basque Country, in Northern Spain, have made use of the structural defects of boron nitride nanotubes to develop an innovative light-emitting source than can be applied in microelectronics technology. The researchers have also been awarded a patent for their light emitter source, Space Daily reports.
Boron nitride is an appealing substrate for nanotechnology because of its high insulation properties and resistance. Besides, its two-dimensional structure resembles that of graphene and the properties of hexagonal boron nitride, which was at the core of the research, are of higher quality compared to other metals and semiconductors that are currently used as light emitters in various applications, such as those associated with optical storage or communications.
Despite its efficiency in ultraviolet light emission, the light emission of boron nitride nanotubes is performed within a limited range of the ultraviolet spectrum. This makes it unsuitable for applications in which the emission must take place within a wider range of frequencies and in a controlled manner. But the researchers were successful in finding a solution to overcome this restriction, making it possible for hexagonal boron nitride nanotubes to be used in commercial applications.
The researchers, who were part of the university's NanoBio Spectroscopy Group, demonstrated that by applying an electric field in a perpendicular direction to the nanotube, it can emit light across the full spectrum and be controlled in a simple way. Control can be exerted so easily only in nanotubes because of their cylindrical structure.
The experiment was successful thanks to the natural defects in boron nitride nanotubes, which are the gaps that turn up in the wall of the nanotube as a result of the absence of a boron atom.