3 years ago

Avalanche Photoemission in Suspended Carbon Nanotubes: Light without Heat

Avalanche Photoemission in Suspended Carbon Nanotubes: Light without Heat
Rehan Kapadia, Jihan Chen, Stephen B. Cronin, Bo Wang, Sisi Yang, Fatemeh Rezaeifar
We observe bright electroluminescence from suspended carbon nanotube (CNT) field effect transistors (FETs) under extremely low applied electrical powers (∼nW). Here, light emission occurs under positive applied gate voltages, with the FET in its “off” state. This enables us to apply high bias voltages (4 V) without heating the CNT. Under these conditions, we observe light emission at currents as small as 1 nA and corresponding electrical powers of 4nW, which is 3 orders of magnitude lower than previous studies. Thermal emission is ruled out by monitoring the G band Raman frequency, which shows no evidence of heating under these small electrical currents. The mechanism of light emission is understood on the basis of steep band bending that occurs in the conduction and valence band profiles at the contacts, which produces a peak electric field of 500 kV/cm, enabling the acceleration of carriers beyond the threshold of exciton emission. The exciton-generated electrons and holes are then accelerated in this field and emit excitons in an avalanche process. This is evidenced by an extremely sharp increase in the current with bias voltage (45 mV/dec). We also observe light emission at negative applied gate voltages when the FET is in its “on” state at comparable electrical powers to those reported previously (∼5 μW). However, substantial Joule heating (T > 1000 K) is also observed under these conditions, and it is difficult to separate the mechanisms of thermal emission from hot carrier photoemission in this regime.

Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsphotonics.7b00455

DOI: 10.1021/acsphotonics.7b00455

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