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Concept: Photodiode


Layered graphitic materials exhibit new intriguing electronic structure and the search for new types of two-dimensional (2D) monolayer is of importance for the fabrication of next generation miniature electronic and optoelectronic devices. By means of density functional theory (DFT) computations, we investigated in detail the structural, electronic, mechanical and optical properties of the single-layer bismuth iodide (BiI3) nanosheet. Monolayer BiI3 is dynamically stable as confirmed by the computed phonon spectrum. The cleavage energy (Ecl) and interlayer coupling strength of bulk BiI3 are comparable to the experimental values of graphite, which indicates that the exfoliation of BiI3 is highly feasible. The obtained stress-strain curve shows that the BiI3 nanosheet is a brittle material with a breaking strain of 13%. The BiI3 monolayer has an indirect band gap of 1.57 eV with spin orbit coupling (SOC), indicating its potential application for solar cells. Furthermore, the band gap of BiI3 monolayer can be modulated by biaxial strain. Most interestingly, interfacing electrically active graphene with monolayer BiI3 nanosheet leads to enhanced light absorption compared to that in pure monolayer BiI3 nanosheet, highlighting its great potential applications in photonics and photovoltaic solar cells.

Concepts: Photon, Optics, Density functional theory, Graphite, Solar cell, Photodiode, Band gap, Photonics


Ultralow trap densities, exceptional optical and electronic properties have been reported for lead halide perovskites single crystals; however, ambiguities in basic properties, such as the band gap, and the electronic defect densities in the bulk and at the surface prevail. Here, we synthesize single crystals of methylammonium lead bromide (CH3NH3PbBr3), characterise the optical absorption and photoluminescence and show that the optical properties of single crystals are almost identical to those of polycrystalline thin films. We observe significantly longer lifetimes and show that carrier diffusion plays a substantial role in the photoluminescence decay. Contrary to many reports, we determine that the trap density in CH3NH3PbBr3 perovskite single crystals is 10(15) cm(-3), only one order of magnitude lower than in the thin films. Our enhanced understanding of optical properties and recombination processes elucidates ambiguities in earlier reports, and highlights the discrepancies in the estimation of trap densities from electronic and optical methods.Metal halide perovskites for optoelectronic devices have been extensively studied in two forms: single-crystals or polycrystalline thin films. Using spectroscopic approaches, Wenger et al. show that polycrystalline thin films possess similar optoelectronic properties to single crystals.

Concepts: Photon, Density, Semiconductor, Solar cell, Photodiode, Electronic band structure, Bulk density, Photonics


Recent advances in materials, mechanics, and electronic device design are rapidly establishing the foundations for health monitoring technologies that have “skin-like” properties, with options in chronic (weeks) integration with the epidermis. The resulting capabilities in physiological sensing greatly exceed those possible with conventional hard electronic systems, such as those found in wrist-mounted wearables, because of the intimate skin interface. However, most examples of such emerging classes of devices require batteries and/or hard-wired connections to enable operation. The work reported here introduces active optoelectronic systems that function without batteries and in an entirely wireless mode, with examples in thin, stretchable platforms designed for multiwavelength optical characterization of the skin. Magnetic inductive coupling and near-field communication (NFC) schemes deliver power to multicolored light-emitting diodes and extract digital data from integrated photodetectors in ways that are compatible with standard NFC-enabled platforms, such as smartphones and tablet computers. Examples in the monitoring of heart rate and temporal dynamics of arterial blood flow, in quantifying tissue oxygenation and ultraviolet dosimetry, and in performing four-color spectroscopic evaluation of the skin demonstrate the versatility of these concepts. The results have potential relevance in both hospital care and at-home diagnostics.

Concepts: Blood, Skin, Photodiode, Diode, Electronics, Electronic engineering, Digital, Multi-touch


Control over morphology and crystallinity of metal halide perovskite films is of key importance to enable high-performance optoelectronics. However, this remains particularly challenging for solution-printed devices due to the complex crystallization kinetics of semiconductor materials within dynamic flow of inks. Here we report a simple yet effective meniscus-assisted solution printing (MASP) strategy to yield large-grained dense perovskite film with good crystallization and preferred orientation. Intriguingly, the outward convective flow triggered by fast solvent evaporation at the edge of the meniscus ink imparts the transport of perovskite solutes, thus facilitating the growth of micrometre-scale perovskite grains. The growth kinetics of perovskite crystals is scrutinized by in situ optical microscopy tracking to understand the crystallization mechanism. The perovskite films produced by MASP exhibit excellent optoelectronic properties with efficiencies approaching 20% in planar perovskite solar cells. This robust MASP strategy may in principle be easily extended to craft other solution-printed perovskite-based optoelectronics.

Concepts: Semiconductor, Solar cell, Wafer, Germanium, Photodiode, Diode, Band gap, P-n junction


There is a growing number of applications demanding highly sensitive photodetectors in the mid-infrared. Thermal photodetectors, such as bolometers, have emerged as the technology of choice, because they do not need cooling. The performance of a bolometer is linked to its temperature coefficient of resistance (TCR, ∼2-4% K(-1) for state-of-the-art materials). Graphene is ideally suited for optoelectronic applications, with a variety of reported photodetectors ranging from visible to THz frequencies. For the mid-infrared, graphene-based detectors with TCRs ∼4-11% K(-1) have been demonstrated. Here we present an uncooled, mid-infrared photodetector, where the pyroelectric response of a LiNbO3 crystal is transduced with high gain (up to 200) into resistivity modulation for graphene. This is achieved by fabricating a floating metallic structure that concentrates the pyroelectric charge on the top-gate capacitor of the graphene channel, leading to TCRs up to 900% K(-1), and the ability to resolve temperature variations down to 15 μK.

Concepts: Optics, Electromagnetic radiation, Frequency, Electrical conductivity, Photodiode, Infrared, Sensors, Detectors


Semiconductor heterostructures form the cornerstone of many electronic and optoelectronic devices and are traditionally fabricated using epitaxial growth techniques. More recently, heterostructures have also been obtained by vertical stacking of two-dimensional crystals, such as graphene and related two-dimensional materials. These layered designer materials are held together by van der Waals forces and contain atomically sharp interfaces. Here, we report on a type-II van der Waals heterojunction made of molybdenum disulfide and tungsten diselenide monolayers. The junction is electrically tunable and under appropriate gate bias, an atomically thin diode is realized. Upon optical illumination, charge transfer occurs across the planar interface and the device exhibits a photovoltaic effect. Advances in large-scale production of two-dimensional crystals could thus lead to a new photovoltaic solar technology.

Concepts: Electric charge, Fundamental physics concepts, Van der Waals force, Molybdenum, Semiconductor, Solar cell, Photodiode, Heterojunction


Miniaturization of optoelectronic devices offers tremendous performance gain. As the volume of photoactive material decreases, optoelectronic performance improves, including the operation speed, the signal-to-noise ratio, and the internal quantum efficiency. Over the past decades, researchers have managed to reduce the volume of photoactive materials in solar cells and photodetectors by orders of magnitude. However, two issues arise when one continues to thin down the photoactive layers to the nanometer scale (for example, <50 nm). First, light-matter interaction becomes weak, resulting in incomplete photon absorption and low quantum efficiency. Second, it is difficult to obtain ultrathin materials with single-crystalline quality. We introduce a method to overcome these two challenges simultaneously. It uses conventional bulk semiconductor wafers, such as Si, Ge, and GaAs, to realize single-crystalline films on foreign substrates that are designed for enhanced light-matter interaction. We use a high-yield and high-throughput method to demonstrate nanometer-thin photodetectors with significantly enhanced light absorption based on nanocavity interference mechanism. These single-crystalline nanomembrane photodetectors also exhibit unique optoelectronic properties, such as the strong field effect and spectral selectivity.

Concepts: Photon, Light, Semiconductor, Solar cell, Absorption, Germanium, Photodiode, Electronics terms


Growth of semiconducting nanostructures on graphene would open up opportunities for the development of flexible optoelectronic devices, but challenges remain in preserving the structural and electrical properties of graphene during this process. We demonstrate growth of highly uniform and well-aligned ZnO nanowire arrays on graphene by modifying the graphene surface with conductive polymer interlayers. Based on this structure, we then demonstrate graphene cathode-based hybrid solar cells using two different photoactive materials - PbS quantum dots and the conjugated polymer P3HT - with AM 1.5G power conversion efficiencies of 4.2% and 0.5%, respectively, approaching the performance of ITO-based devices with similar architectures. Our method preserves beneficial properties of graphene and demonstrates that it can serve as a viable replacement for ITO in various photovoltaic device configurations.

Concepts: Electricity, Energy, Semiconductor, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Photodiode, Photovoltaic module, Band gap


The energy costs associated with separating tightly bound excitons (photoinduced electron-hole pairs) and extracting free charges from highly disordered low-mobility networks represent fundamental losses for many low-cost photovoltaic technologies. We report a low-cost, solution-processable solar cell, based on a highly crystalline perovskite absorber with intense visible to near-infrared absorptivity, that has a power conversion efficiency of 10.9% in a single-junction device under simulated full sunlight. This “meso-superstructured solar cell” exhibits exceptionally few fundamental energy losses; it can generate open-circuit photovoltages of more than 1.1 volts, despite the relatively narrow absorber band gap of 1.55 electron volts. The functionality arises from the use of mesoporous alumina as an inert scaffold that structures the absorber and forces electrons to reside in and be transported through the perovskite.

Concepts: Energy, Photoelectric effect, Semiconductor, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Energy conversion efficiency, Photodiode, Band gap


The band gap of formamidinium lead iodide (FAPbI3) perovskites allows broader absorption of the solar spectrum compared to conventional methylammonium lead iodide (MAPbI3). The optoelectronic properties of perovskite films are closely related to the film-quality, so depositing dense and uniform films is crucial for fabricating high-performance perovskite solar cells (PSCs). We report an approach for depositing high-quality FAPbI3 films, involving FAPbI3 crystallization by the direct intramolecular exchange of dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) molecules intercalated in PbI2 with formamidinium iodide. This process produces FAPbI3 films with (111)-preferred crystallographic orientation, large-grained dense microstructures, and flat surfaces without residual PbI2. Using films prepared by this technique, FAPbI3-based PSCs with maximum power conversion efficiency of over 20% were fabricated.

Concepts: Crystallography, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Energy conversion, Energy conversion efficiency, Photodiode, Band gap, Lead(II) nitrate