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Electroluminescence from nanocrystals above 2 µm

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Visible nanocrystal-based light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are about to become commercially available. However, their infrared counterparts suffer from two key limitations. First, III–V semiconductor technologies are strong competitors. Second, their potential for operation beyond 1.7 µm remains unexplored. The range from 1.5 to 4 µm corresponds to a technological gap in which the efficiency of interband quantum-well-based devices vanishes and quantum cascade lasers are not efficient enough. Powerful infrared LEDs in this range are needed for applications such as active imaging, organic molecule sensing and airfield lighting. Here we report the design of a HgTe nanocrystal-based LED with luminescence between 2 and 2.3 µm. With an external quantum efficiency of 0.3% and radiance up to 3 W Sr−1 m−2, these HgTe LEDs already present a competitive performance for emission above 2 µm.

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Fig. 1: Spectroscopic properties of 2-µm-emitting HgTe NCs.
Fig. 2: LED design and performance with emission at 2 µm.
Fig. 3: Revealing spectral properties of the LED.
Fig. 4: Transport and dynamic properties of the HgTe:ZnO film.
Fig. 5: Static and time-resolved photoemission for HgTe:ZnO NC-based thin film.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available upon reasonable request. Source data are provided with this paper.

Change history

  • 11 January 2022

    In the version of this article initially published, there was an omission in affiliation 2. The affiliation has been corrected in the html and PDF versions of this article as of 11 January 2022.


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We thank P. Hollander and D. Henry for experimental support. The project is supported by ERC starting grant blackQD (grant no. 756225, E.L.) and Ne2Dem (grant no. 853049, S.I.). We acknowledge the use of clean-room facilities at the Centrale de Proximité Paris-Centre. This work has been supported by the Region Île-de-France in the framework of DIM Nano-K (grant dopQD, E.L.) and in the framework of the SESAME Electrophonon (grant no. 14014520, D.B.). We acknowledge financial support from the French Department of Defence (DGA) in the frame of the Oscillateur térahertz project (grant no. 2018 60 0071 00 470 75 01, D.B.), and of PALM in the framework of the TPS grant (grant no. ANR‐10‐LABX‐0039‐PALM, D.B.). This work was supported by French state funds managed by the ANR within the Investissements d’Avenir programme under reference ANR-11-IDEX-0004-02 (E.L.) and, more specifically, within the framework of the Cluster of Excellence MATISSE and also by the grant IPER-Nano2 (ANR-18CE30-0023-01, E.L.), Copin (ANR-19-CE24-0022, E.L.), Frontal (ANR-19-CE09-0017, M.G.S.), Graskop (ANR-19-CE09-0026, E.L.), TOCYDYS (ANR-19-CE30-0015-03, D.B.) and NITQuantum (ANR-20-ASTR-0008-01, E.L.), Bright (ANR-21-CE24-0012-02, E.L.) and MixDFerro (ANR-21-CE09-0029, E.L.). J.Q. thanks the Chinese Scholarship Council for PhD funding and A.C. thanks Agence Innovation Defense.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



E.L. designed the project. J.Q. and Y.P. grew the nanocrystals with the support of E.I. and S.I. G.P. conducted TEM imaging. J.Q. fabricated the diode with the support of E.B. J.Q. and E.B. characterized the diode with the support of A.C. and G.V. for infrared camera imaging. D.B., M.W., S.G.M. and E.B. measured the EL spectra. Synchrotron measurements were performed by C.G., C.D. and M.G.S. M.W., S.G.M., E.P. and D.B. conducted the transient reflectivity measurements. All authors discussed the results. E.L. wrote the manuscript with input from all other authors.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Emmanuel Lhuillier.

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Peer review information Nature Photonics thanks Ni Zhao and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–23, Discussion and Tables 1 and 2.

Source data

Source Data Fig. 1

Data from Fig. 1a,b,d,e.

Source Data Fig. 2

Data from Fig. 2d,e.

Source Data Fig. 3

Data from Fig. 3a.

Source Data Fig. 4

Data from Fig. 4b–e.

Source Data Fig. 5

Data from Fig. 5a,b,d,e.

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Qu, J., Weis, M., Izquierdo, E. et al. Electroluminescence from nanocrystals above 2 µm. Nat. Photon. 16, 38–44 (2022).

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