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Surface-plasmon-enhanced light emitters based on InGaN quantum wells


Since 1993, InGaN light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have been improved and commercialized1,2, but these devices have not fulfilled their original promise as solid-state replacements for light bulbs as their light-emission efficiencies have been limited2. Here we describe a method to enhance this efficiency through the energy transfer between quantum wells (QWs) and surface plasmons (SPs). SPs can increase the density of states and the spontaneous emission rate in the semiconductor3,4,5,6,7,8,9, and lead to the enhancement of light emission by SP–QW coupling10,11. Large enhancements of the internal quantum efficiencies (ηint) were measured when silver or aluminium layers were deposited 10 nm above an InGaN light-emitting layer, whereas no such enhancements were obtained from gold-coated samples. Our results indicate that the use of SPs would lead to a new class of very bright LEDs, and highly efficient solid-state light sources.

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Figure 1: Photoluminescence measurements.
Figure 2: PL enhancement ratios.
Figure 3: Topographic and luminescence images.
Figure 4: Temperature dependence and Purcell enhancement factors.

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The authors wish to thank the US Air Force Office for Scientific Research for their support under contract F49620-03-1-0418.

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Correspondence to Axel Scherer.

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Okamoto, K., Niki, I., Shvartser, A. et al. Surface-plasmon-enhanced light emitters based on InGaN quantum wells. Nature Mater 3, 601–605 (2004).

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