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Unidirectional luminescence from InGaN/GaN quantum-well metasurfaces


III–nitride light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are the backbone of ubiquitous lighting and display applications. Imparting directional emission is an essential requirement for many LED implementations. Although optical packaging1, nanopatterning2,3 and surface roughening4 techniques can enhance LED extraction, directing the emitted light requires bulky optical components. Optical metasurfaces provide precise control over transmitted and reflected waveforms, suggesting a new route for directing light emission. However, it is difficult to adapt metasurface concepts for incoherent light emission, due to the lack of a phase-locking incident wave. Here, we demonstrate a metasurface-based design of InGaN/GaN quantum-well structures that generate narrow, unidirectional transmission and emission lobes at arbitrary engineered angles. We further demonstrate 7-fold and 100-fold enhancements of total and air-coupled external quantum efficiencies, respectively. The results present a new strategy for exploiting metasurface functionality in light-emitting devices.

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Fig. 1: Metasurface schematics and design.
Fig. 2: Directional metasurface transmission and emission.
Fig. 3: Comparison between calculated and measured metasurface radiation patterns.
Fig. 4: Metasurface polarization and efficiency.

Data availability

The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Code availability

The code that supports the plots within this paper and other findings of this study is available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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This work—including all efforts by P.P.I., R.A.D., N.A.B. and J.A.S.—was primarily supported by the Office of Naval Research (N00014-19-1-2004). Y.M. acknowledges support from Quantum Materials for Energy Efficient Neuromorphic Computing, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences (BES), under award no. DE-SC0019273. G.L. and C.W. acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation (DMS-1839077) and the Simons Foundation (601954). A.A., S.N. and S.P.D. acknowledge support from the Solid State Lighting and Energy Electronics Center.

Author information




P.P.I. and J.A.S. proposed, conceived and supervised the project. P.P.I., Y.M. and N.A.B. fabricated the devices. P.P.I. performed the numerical electromagnetics simulations and momentum-resolved luminescence measurements. R.A.D. performed momentum-resolved transmission and absorption measurements, and derived and coded the analytical LDOS model. R.A.D. and G.L. performed quantum efficiency measurements. G.L. performed the band structure calculation under the supervision of C.W. A.A. grew the quantum wells under the supervision of S.P.D. and S.N. P.P.I., R.A.D. and J.A.S. analysed the data. All authors contributed to the writing of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jon. A. Schuller.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary discussion, Sections 1–7, and Figs. 1.1, 1.2 and 2–7.

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Iyer, P.P., DeCrescent, R.A., Mohtashami, Y. et al. Unidirectional luminescence from InGaN/GaN quantum-well metasurfaces. Nat. Photonics 14, 543–548 (2020).

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