Cavity-enhanced light emission from electrically driven carbon nanotubes


An important advancement towards optical communication on a chip would be the development of integratable, nanoscale photonic emitters with tailored optical properties. Here we demonstrate the use of carbon nanotubes as electrically driven high-speed emitters in combination with a nanophotonic cavity that allows for exceptionally narrow linewidths. The one-dimensional photonic crystal cavities are shown to spectrally select desired emission wavelengths, enhance intensity and efficiently couple light into the underlying photonic network with high reproducibility. Under pulsed voltage excitation, we realize on-chip modulation rates in the GHz range, compatible with active photonic networks. Because the linewidth of the molecular emitter is determined by the quality factor of the photonic crystal, our approach effectively eliminates linewidth broadening due to temperature, surface interaction and hot-carrier injection.

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Figure 1: PCNBC device with coupled CNT light emitter.
Figure 2: Light emission from a CNT-coupled PCNBC device.
Figure 3: Transmission and emission spectra of CNTs in the photonic crystal waveguides with the air mode cavity.
Figure 4: Transmission and emission spectra of CNTs in photonic crystal waveguides with dielectric mode cavity.
Figure 5: The role of the metal contacts in light propagation and enhancement in PCNBC devices.
Figure 6: High-speed modulation of CNT emission in PCNBC devices.


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W.H.P. Pernice acknowledges support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) grants PE 1832/1-1 & PE 1832/1-2 and the Helmholtz society through grant HIRG-0005, as well as support by the DFG and the State of Baden-Württemberg through the DFG-Center for Functional Nanostructures (CFN). R. Krupke and F. Pyatkov acknowledge funding by the Volkswagen Foundation. B.S. Flavel acknowledges support by the DFG grant FL 834/1-1. F. Hennrich, M.M. Kappes and R. Krupke acknowledge support by Helmholtz society through program STN and by the KNMF. We thank S. Kühn and S. Diewald for the help with device fabrication and P. Löser for the preparation of CNT suspensions.

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The experiment was conceived and designed by W.H.P.P. and R.K. F.P., V.F. and S.K. fabricated the devices and carried out the experiments. The carbon nanotube suspensions were provided by F.H., B.S.F. and M.M.K. V.F. performed the simulations. The data were analysed by F.P., V.F., S.K., R.K. and W.H.P.P. All the authors contributed to discussions and manuscript preparation.

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Correspondence to Ralph Krupke or Wolfram H. P. Pernice.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Pyatkov, F., Fütterling, V., Khasminskaya, S. et al. Cavity-enhanced light emission from electrically driven carbon nanotubes. Nature Photon 10, 420–427 (2016).

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