A monolithic white laser


Monolithic semiconductor lasers capable of emitting over the full visible-colour spectrum have a wide range of important applications, such as solid-state lighting, full-colour displays, visible colour communications and multi-colour fluorescence sensing. The ultimate form of such a light source would be a monolithic white laser. However, realizing such a device has been challenging because of intrinsic difficulties in achieving epitaxial growth of the mismatched materials required for different colour emission. Here, we demonstrate a monolithic multi-segment semiconductor nanosheet based on a quaternary alloy of ZnCdSSe that simultaneously lases in the red, green and blue. This is made possible by a novel nanomaterial growth strategy that enables separate control of the composition, morphology and therefore bandgaps of the segments. Our nanolaser can be dynamically tuned to emit over the full visible-colour range, covering 70% more perceptible colours than the most commonly used illuminants.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Growth procedure of multi-segment heterostructure nanosheets.
Figure 2: Structural characterization of a multi-segment heterostructure nanosheet.
Figure 3: Simultaneous multi-colour lasing from a single multi-segment heterostructure nanosheet.
Figure 4: Light-in–light-out curves with multimode lasing fitting.
Figure 5: White and full-colour tunable lasing.
Figure 6: Colour photographs.


  1. 1

    Qian, F. et al. Multi-quantum-well nanowire heterostructures for wavelength-controlled lasers. Nature 7, 701–706 (2008).

  2. 2

    Dang, C. et al. Red, green and blue lasing enabled by single-exciton gain in colloidal quantum dot films. Nature Nanotech. 7, 335–339 (2012).

  3. 3

    Hu, X. P. et al. High-power red-green-blue laser light source based on intermittent oscillating dual-wavelength Nd:YAG laser with a cascaded LiTaO3 superlattice. Opt. Lett. 33, 408–410 (2008).

  4. 4

    Fujimoto, Y., Ishii, O. & Yamazaki, M. Multi-color laser oscillation in Pr3+ doped fluoro-aluminate glass fiber pumped by 442.6 nm GaN–semiconductor laser. Electron. Lett. 45, 1301–1302 (2009).

  5. 5

    Yamashita, K., Takeuchi, N., Oe, K. & Yanagi, H. Simultaneous RGB lasing from a single-chip polymer device. Opt. Lett. 35, 2451–2453 (2010).

  6. 6

    Tang, S. K. Y. et al. A multi-color fast-switching microfluidic droplet dye laser. Lab Chip 9, 2767–2771 (2009).

  7. 7

    Ding, Y. et al. Nanowires/micorfibre hybrid structure multicolor laser. Opt. Express 17, 21813–21818 (2009).

  8. 8

    Chen, S., Zhao, X., Wang, Y., Shi, J. & Liu, D. White light emission with red-green-blue lasing action in a disordered system of nanoparticles. Appl. Phys. Lett. 101, 123508 (2012).

  9. 9

    Naderi, N. A. et al. Two-color multi-section quantum dot distributed feedback laser. Opt. Express 18, 27026–27035 (2010).

  10. 10

    Neumann, A. et al. Four-color laser white illuminant demonstrating high color-rendering quality. Opt. Express 19, A982–A990 (2011).

  11. 11

    Wierer, Jr. J. J., Tsao, J. Y. & Sizov, D. S. Comparison between blue laser and light-emitting diodes for future solid-state lighting. Laser Photon. Rev. 7, 963–993 (2013).

  12. 12

    Zhao, J., Jiang, H. & Di, J. Recording and reconstruction of a color holographic image by using digital lensless Fourier transform holography. Opt. Express 16, 2514–2519 (2008).

  13. 13

    Chellappan, K., Erden, E. & Urey, H. Laser-based displays: a review. Appl. Opt. 49, F79–F98 (2010).

  14. 14

    Kotani, A. et al. EndoV/DNA ligase mutation scanning assay using microchip capillary electrophoresis and dual-color laser-induced fluorescence detection. Anal. Methods 4, 58–64 (2012).

  15. 15

    Pascu, M. L., Moise, N. & Staicu, A. Tunable dye laser applications in environment pollution monitoring. J. Mol. Struct. 598, 57–64 (2001).

  16. 16

    Lin, W. Y. et al. 410 m/500 Mbps WDM visible light communication systems. Opt. Express 20, 9919–9924 (2012).

  17. 17

    Cossu, G., Khalid, A. M., Choudhury, P., Corsini, R. & Ciaramella, E. 3.4 Gbit/s visible optical wireless transmission based on RGB LED. Opt. Express 20, B501–B506 (2012).

  18. 18

    Alivisatos, A. P. Semiconductor clusters, nanocrystals, and quantum dots. Science 271, 933–937 (1996).

  19. 19

    Huang, Y., Duan, X. F. & Lieber, C. M. Nanowires for integrated multicolor nanophotonics. Small 1, 142–147 (2005).

  20. 20

    Kuykendall, T., Ulrich, P., Aloni, S. & Yang, P. Complete composition tunability of InGaN nanowires using a combinatorial approach. Nature Mater. 6, 951–956 (2007).

  21. 21

    Yang, Z. et al. On-nanowire spatial band gap design for white light emission. Nano Lett. 11, 5085–5089 (2011).

  22. 22

    Anikeeva, P. O., Halpert, J. E., Bawendi, M. G. & Bulovic, V. Quantum dot light-emitting devices with electroluminescence tunable over the entire visible spectrum. Nano Lett. 9, 2532–2536 (2009).

  23. 23

    Kim, T. et al. Full-colour quantum dot displays fabricated by transfer printing. Nature Photon. 5, 176–182 (2011).

  24. 24

    Fan, F. et al. Simultaneous two-color lasing in a single CdSSe heterostructure nanosheet. Semicond. Sci. Technol. 28, 065005 (2013).

  25. 25

    Liu, Z. et al. Dynamical color-controllable lasing with extremely wide tuning range from red to green in a single alloy nanowire using nanoscale manipulation. Nano Lett. 13, 4945–4950 (2013).

  26. 26

    Kim, Y. L. et al. CdS/CdSe lateral heterostructure nanobelts by a two-step physical vapor transport method. Nanotechnology 21, 145602 (2010).

  27. 27

    VEM. Thin Film Evaporation Guide (Lebow Corporation and Vacuum Engineering & Materials Inc., 2008).

  28. 28

    Fang, X. et al. ZnS nanostructures: from synthesis to applications. Prog. Mater. Sci. 56, 175–287 (2011).

  29. 29

    Yue, G. H. et al. Synthesis of two-dimensional micron-sized single-crystalline ZnS thin nanosheets and their photoluminescence properties. J. Cryst. Growth. 293, 428–432 (2006).

  30. 30

    Moore, D. & Wang, Z. L. Growth of anisotropic one-dimensional ZnS nanostructures. J. Mater. Chem. 16, 3898–3905 (2006).

  31. 31

    Ding, J. X. et al. Lasing in ZnS nanowires grown on anodic aluminum oxide templates. Appl. Phys. Lett. 85, 2361–2363 (2004).

  32. 32

    Liu, Y. et al. Wavelength-controlled lasing in ZnxCd1−xS single-crystal nanoribbons. Adv. Mater. 17, 1372–1377 (2005).

  33. 33

    Pan, A. L., Liu, R. B., Sun, M. H. & Ning, C. Z. Quaternary alloy semiconductor nanobelts with bandgap spanning the entire visible spectrum. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 131, 9502–9503 (2009).

  34. 34

    Pan, A. et al. Continuous alloy-composition spatial grading and superbroad wavelength-tunable nanowire lasers on a single chip. Nano Lett. 9, 784–788 (2009).

  35. 35

    Dloczik, L. & Konenkamp, R. Nanostructure transfer in semiconductors by ion exchange. Nano Lett. 3, 651–653 (2003).

  36. 36

    Son, H. D., Hughes, M. S., Yin, Y. & Alivisatos, P. A. Cation exchange reactions in ionic nanocrystals. Science 306, 1009 (2004).

  37. 37

    Moon, D. G. et al. Chemical transformations of nanostructured materials. Nano Today 6, 186–203 (2011).

  38. 38

    Wang, Y. et al. Gas-phase anion exchange towards ZnO/ZnSe heterostructures with intensive visible light emission. J. Mater. Chem. C 2, 2793–2798 (2014).

  39. 39

    Deng, Z., Yan, H. & Liu, Y. Band gap engineering of quaternary-alloyed ZnCdSSe quantum dots via a facile phosphine-free colloidal method. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 131, 17744–17745 (2009).

  40. 40

    Ichino, K., Onishi, T., Kawakami, Y., Fujita, S. & Fujita, S. Growth of ZnS and ZnCdSSe alloys on GaP using an elemental sulfur source by molecular beam epitaxy. J. Cryst. Growth. 138, 28–34 (1994).

  41. 41

    Wang, Z. Y., Lu, Q. F., Fang, X. S., Tian, X. K. & Zhang, L. D. Manipulation of the morphology of CdSe nanostructures: the effect of Si. Adv. Funct. Mater. 16, 661–666 (2006).

  42. 42

    Wang, M. & Fei, G. T. Synthesis of tapered CdS nanobelts and CdSe nanowires with good optical property by hydrogen-assisted thermal evaporation. Nanoscale Res. Lett. 4, 1166–1170 (2009).

  43. 43

    Tong, L. M. et al. Assembly of silica nanowires on silica aerogels for microphotonic devices. Nano Lett. 5, 259–262 (2005).

  44. 44

    Zimmler, M. A., Capasso, F., Muller, S. & Ronning, C. Optically pumped nanowire lasers: invited review. Semicond. Sci. Technol. 25, 024001 (2010).

  45. 45

    Casperson, L. W. Threshold characteristics of multimode laser oscillators. J. Appl. Phys. 46, 5194–5201 (1975).

  46. 46

    International Commission on Illumination. CIE 15 Colorimetry Technical Report, 3rd edn, US Government Document (International Commission on Illumination, 2004).

  47. 47

    International Electrotechnical Commission. Multimedia Systems and Equipment—Colour Measurement and Management—Part 2-1 Colour Management—Default RGB Colour Space–sRGB, IEC 61966-2-1 (International Electrotechnical Commission, 1999).

  48. 48

    Pan, A., Liu, R., Sun, M. & Ning, C. Z. Spatial composition grading of quaternary ZnCdSSe alloy nanowires with tunable light emission between 350 and 710 nm on a single substrate. ACS Nano 4, 671–680 (2010).

  49. 49

    Fan, Z. et al. Wafer-scale assembly of highly ordered semiconductor nanowire arrays by contact printing. Nano Lett. 8, 20–25 (2008).

Download references


The authors thank the Army Research Office for their initial support on nanowire research (award no. W911NF-08-1-0471, under M. Gerhold) that eventually led to this work. The authors acknowledge the use of facilities within the LeRoy Eyring Center for Solid State Science at Arizona State University, especially D. Wright and A.J. Mardinly for their assistance with the CVD set-up and high-resolution TEM, respectively. F.F. thanks the China Scholar Council for a scholarship, and S.T. thanks the Republic of Turkey's Ministry of National Education for financial support through its fellowship.

Author information

C.Z.N. created the concept, initiated the research on the white lasers, and supervised the overall project. S.T. developed the growth strategy and was responsible for the growth of multi-segment heterostructure nanosheets and the structural and chemical characterizations. F.F. and Z.L. designed and performed the key optical experiments, theoretical calculations and simulations. D.S. carried out the AFM measurements, as well as other optical measurements. All authors participated in regular data analysis, discussed the research results, and were involved in the preparation and various revisions of the manuscript.

Correspondence to C. Z. Ning.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary information

Supplementary information (PDF 3169 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Fan, F., Turkdogan, S., Liu, Z. et al. A monolithic white laser. Nature Nanotech 10, 796–803 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2015.149

Download citation

Further reading