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Spectral focusing of broadband silver electroluminescence in nanoscopic FRET-LEDs


Few inventions have shaped the world like the incandescent bulb. Edison used thermal radiation from ohmically heated conductors, but some noble metals also exhibit ‘cold’ electroluminescence in percolation films1,2, tunnel diodes3, electromigrated nanoparticle aggregates4,5, optical antennas6 or scanning tunnelling microscopy7,8,9. The origin of this radiation, which is spectrally broad and depends on applied bias, is controversial given the low radiative yields of electronic transitions. Nanoparticle electroluminescence is particularly intriguing because it involves localized surface-plasmon resonances with large dipole moments. Such plasmons enable very efficient non-radiative fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) coupling to proximal resonant dipole transitions. Here, we demonstrate nanoscopic FRET–light-emitting diodes which exploit the opposite process, energy transfer from silver nanoparticles to exfoliated monolayers of transition-metal dichalcogenides10. In diffraction-limited hotspots showing pronounced photon bunching, broadband silver electroluminescence is focused into the narrow excitonic resonance of the atomically thin overlayer. Such devices may offer alternatives to conventional nano-light-emitting diodes11 in on-chip optical interconnects.

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Figure 1: Nanoscopic FRET-LEDs from electromigrated silver nanoparticles covered with an exfoliated TMDC monolayer.
Figure 2: Spectral focusing of nanoscopic silver FRET-LEDs with different overlayers.
Figure 3: Non-contact AFM of the break-junction region.
Figure 4: Change of WS2 photoluminescence spectrum upon electromigration due to straining.


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The authors thank E. Mishchenko for stimulating discussions and R. Martin for assistance with sample fabrication. This work was inspired by a Scialog Fellowship (J.M.L.) of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. The authors acknowledge the DFG for providing collaborative funding (SFB 689 and GRK 1570). J.M.L. acknowledges financial support from the European Research Council through Starting Grant MolMesON (no. 305020). A.C. acknowledges funding from the DFG through the Emmy Noether Programme (CH 1672/1-1).

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R.P.P., F.S., G.P., F.H., I.C., J.K., P.N. and J.V. performed the experiments and analysed the data. A.C., T.K. and C.S. contributed materials and analysis tools. J.M.L. and S.B. conceived and designed the experiments. J.M.L. wrote the paper with input from the authors.

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Correspondence to John M. Lupton.

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Puchert, R., Steiner, F., Plechinger, G. et al. Spectral focusing of broadband silver electroluminescence in nanoscopic FRET-LEDs. Nature Nanotech 12, 637–641 (2017).

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