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Bright visible light emission from graphene


Graphene and related two-dimensional materials are promising candidates for atomically thin, flexible and transparent optoelectronics1,2. In particular, the strong light–matter interaction in graphene3 has allowed for the development of state-of-the-art photodetectors4,5, optical modulators6 and plasmonic devices7. In addition, electrically biased graphene on SiO2 substrates can be used as a low-efficiency emitter in the mid-infrared range8,9. However, emission in the visible range has remained elusive. Here, we report the observation of bright visible light emission from electrically biased suspended graphene devices. In these devices, heat transport is greatly reduced10. Hot electrons (2,800 K) therefore become spatially localized at the centre of the graphene layer, resulting in a 1,000-fold enhancement in thermal radiation efficiency8,9. Moreover, strong optical interference between the suspended graphene and substrate can be used to tune the emission spectrum. We also demonstrate the scalability of this technique by realizing arrays of chemical-vapour-deposited graphene light emitters. These results pave the way towards the realization of commercially viable large-scale, atomically thin, flexible and transparent light emitters and displays with low operation voltage and graphene-based on-chip ultrafast optical communications.

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Figure 1: Bright visible light emission from electrically biased suspended graphene.
Figure 2: Spectra of visible light emitted from electrically biased suspended graphene.
Figure 3: Simulated spectra of radiation from electrically biased suspended graphene.
Figure 4: Electrical and thermal transport in electrically biased suspended graphene.


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The authors thank P. Kim, D-H. Chae, J-M. Ryu and A.M. van der Zande for discussions. This work was supported by the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science under the auspices of the project ‘Convergent Science and Technology for Measurements at the Nanoscale’ (15011053), grants from the National Research Foundation of Korea (2014-023563, NRF-2008-0061906, NRF-2013R1A1A1076141, NRF-2012M3C1A1048861, 2011-0017605, BSR-2012R1A2A2A01045496 and NMTD-2012M3A7B4049888) funded by the Korea government (MSIP), a grant (2011-0031630) from the Center for Advanced Soft Electronics through the Global Frontier Research Program of MSIP, the Priority Research Center Program (2012-0005859), a grant (2011-0030786) from the Center for Topological Matters at POSTECH, the NSF (DMR-1122594), AFOSR (FA95550-09-0705), ONR (N00014-13-1-0662 and N00014-13-1-0464), Army Research Office (ARO) grant W911NF-13-1-0471 and the Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship (QInF) 2013. Computational resources were provided by the Aspiring Researcher Program through Seoul National University.

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Y.D.K., Y.C., H.K., Y.L., D.Y., T.F.H. and H.C. performed the measurements. H.K., Y.D.K., P.K., S.L., J.H. and S.W.L. fabricated the devices. Y.S.K., S.L., J.H. and S-H.C. grew the CVD graphene. S-N.P. and Y.S.Y. provided calibrated black-body sources. M-H.B., V.E.D. and E.P. performed the simulations using the electro-thermal model. J.H.R. and C-H.P. developed a theoretical model for thermal emission beyond the Planck radiation formula and J.H.R. performed simulations based on it. M-H.B., Y.D.K. and Y.D.P. conceived the experiments. All authors discussed the results.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Young Duck Kim or Myung-Ho Bae or Yun Daniel Park.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Kim, Y., Kim, H., Cho, Y. et al. Bright visible light emission from graphene. Nature Nanotech 10, 676–681 (2015).

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