GaN-based light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have been widely accepted as highly efficient solid-state light sources capable of replacing conventional incandescent and fluorescent lamps. However, their applications are limited to small devices because their fabrication process is expensive as it involves epitaxial growth of GaN by metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) on single crystalline sapphire wafers. If a low-cost epitaxial growth process such as sputtering on a metal foil can be used, it will be possible to fabricate large-area and flexible GaN-based light-emitting displays. Here we report preparation of GaN films on nearly lattice-matched flexible Hf foils using pulsed sputtering deposition (PSD) and demonstrate feasibility of fabricating full-color GaN-based LEDs. It was found that introduction of low-temperature (LT) grown layers suppressed the interfacial reaction between GaN and Hf, allowing the growth of high-quality GaN films on Hf foils. We fabricated blue, green, and red LEDs on Hf foils and confirmed their normal operation. The present results indicate that GaN films on Hf foils have potential applications in fabrication of future large-area flexible GaN-based optoelectronics.
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.
Semiconductor heterostructures provide a powerful platform to engineer the dynamics of excitons for fundamental and applied interests. However, the functionality of conventional semiconductor heterostructures is often limited by inefficient charge transfer across interfaces due to the interfacial imperfection caused by lattice mismatch. Here we demonstrate that MoS2/WS2 heterostructures consisting of monolayer MoS2 and WS2 stacked in the vertical direction can enable equally efficient interlayer exciton relaxation regardless the epitaxy and orientation of the stacking. This is manifested by a similar two orders of magnitude decrease of photoluminescence intensity in both epitaxial and non-epitaxial MoS2/WS2 heterostructures. Both heterostructures also show similarly improved absorption beyond the simple super-imposition of the absorptions of monolayer MoS2 and WS2. Our result indicates that 2D heterostructures bear significant implications for the development of photonic devices, in particular those requesting efficient exciton separation and strong light absorption, such as solar cells, photodetectors, modulators, and photocatalysts. It also suggests that the simple stacking of dissimilar 2D materials with random orientations is a viable strategy to fabricate complex functional 2D heterostructures, which would show similar optical functionality as the counterpart with perfect epitaxy.
Hybrid organic/lead halide perovskites are promising materials for solar cell fabrication, resulting in efficiencies up to 18%. The most commonly-studied perovskites are CH3NH3PbI3 and CH3NH3Pb(I3-xClx) where x is small. Importantly, in the latter system, the presence of chloride ion source in the starting solutions used for the perovskite deposition results in a strong increase in the overall charge diffusion length. In this work we investigate the crystallization parameters relevant to fabrication of perovskite materials based on CH3NH3PbI3 and CH3NH3PbBr3. We find that the addition of PbCl2 to the solutions used in the perovskite synthesis has a remarkable effect on the end product, because PbCl2 nanocrystals are present during the fabrication process, acting as heterogeneous nucleation sites for the formation of perovskite crystals in solution. We base this conclusion on SEM studies, synthesis of perovskite single crystals, and on cryo-TEM imaging of the frozen mother liquid. Our studies also included the effect of different substrates and substrate temperatures on the perovskite nucleation efficiency. In view of our findings, we optimized the procedures for solar cells based on lead bromide perovskite, resulting in 5.7% efficiency and Voc of 1.24 V, improving the performance in this class of devices. Insights gained from understanding the hybrid perovskite crystallization process can aid in rational design of the polycrystalline absorber films, leading to their improved performance.
Few-layered transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) are known as true two-dimensional materials, with excellent semiconducting properties and strong light-matter interaction. Thus, TMDs are attractive materials for semitransparent and flexible solar cells for use in various applications. Hoewver, despite the recent progress, the development of a scalable method to fabricate semitransparent and flexible solar cells with mono- or few-layered TMDs remains a crucial challenge. Here, we show easy and scalable fabrication of a few-layered TMD solar cell using a Schottky-type configuration to obtain a power conversion efficiency (PCE) of approximately 0.7%, which is the highest value reported with few-layered TMDs. Clear power generation was also observed for a device fabricated on a large SiO2 and flexible substrate, demonstrating that our method has high potential for scalable production. In addition, systematic investigation revealed that the PCE and external quantum efficiency (EQE) strongly depended on the type of photogenerated excitons (A, B, and C) because of different carrier dynamics. Because high solar cell performance along with excellent scalability can be achieved through the proposed process, our fabrication method will contribute to accelerating the industrial use of TMDs as semitransparent and flexible solar cells.
Multi-junction solar cells made by assembling semiconductor materials with different bandgap energies have hold the record conversion efficiencies for many years and are currently approaching 50%. Theoretical efficiency limits make use of optimum designs with the right lattice constant-bandgap energy combination, which requires a 1.0-1.15 eV material lattice-matched to GaAs/Ge. Nevertheless, the lack of suitable semiconductor materials is hindering the achievement of the predicted efficiencies, since the only candidates were up to now complex quaternary and quinary alloys with inherent epitaxial growth problems that degrade carrier dynamics. Here we show how the use of strain-balanced GaAsSb/GaAsN superlattices might solve this problem. We demonstrate that the spatial separation of Sb and N atoms avoids the ubiquitous growth problems and improves crystal quality. Moreover, these new structures allow for additional control of the effective bandgap through the period thickness and provide a type-II band alignment with long carrier lifetimes. All this leads to a strong enhancement of the external quantum efficiency under photovoltaic conditions with respect to bulk layers of equivalent thickness. Our results show that GaAsSb/GaAsN superlattices with short periods are the ideal (pseudo)material to be integrated in new GaAs/Ge-based multi-junction solar cells that could approach the theoretical efficiency limit.
Integrating different semiconductor materials into an epitaxial device structure offers additional degrees of freedom to select for optimal material properties in each layer. However, interfaces between materials with different valences (i.e. III-V, II-VI and IV semiconductors) can be difficult to form with high quality. Using ZnSe/GaAs as a model system, we explore the use of ultraviolet (UV) illumination during heterovalent interface growth by molecular beam epitaxy as a way to modify the interface properties. We find that UV illumination alters the mixture of chemical bonds at the interface, permitting the formation of Ga-Se bonds that help to passivate the underlying GaAs layer. Illumination also helps to reduce defects in the ZnSe epilayer. These results suggest that moderate UV illumination during growth may be used as a way to improve the optical properties of both the GaAs and ZnSe layers on either side of the interface.
Epitaxy-the growth of a crystalline material on a substrate-is crucial for the semiconductor industry, but is often limited by the need for lattice matching between the two material systems. This strict requirement is relaxed for van der Waals epitaxy, in which epitaxy on layered or two-dimensional (2D) materials is mediated by weak van der Waals interactions, and which also allows facile layer release from 2D surfaces. It has been thought that 2D materials are the only seed layers for van der Waals epitaxy. However, the substrates below 2D materials may still interact with the layers grown during epitaxy (epilayers), as in the case of the so-called wetting transparency documented for graphene. Here we show that the weak van der Waals potential of graphene cannot completely screen the stronger potential field of many substrates, which enables epitaxial growth to occur despite its presence. We use density functional theory calculations to establish that adatoms will experience remote epitaxial registry with a substrate through a substrate-epilayer gap of up to nine ångströms; this gap can accommodate a monolayer of graphene. We confirm the predictions with homoepitaxial growth of GaAs(001) on GaAs(001) substrates through monolayer graphene, and show that the approach is also applicable to InP and GaP. The grown single-crystalline films are rapidly released from the graphene-coated substrate and perform as well as conventionally prepared films when incorporated in light-emitting devices. This technique enables any type of semiconductor film to be copied from underlying substrates through 2D materials, and then the resultant epilayer to be rapidly released and transferred to a substrate of interest. This process is particularly attractive in the context of non-silicon electronics and photonics, where the ability to re-use the graphene-coated substrates allows savings on the high cost of non-silicon substrates.
Organometallic halide perovskite solar cells (PSCs) have shown great promise as a low-cost, high-efficiency photovoltaic technology. Structural and electro-optical properties of the perovskite absorber layer are most critical to device operation characteristics. Here we present a facile fabrication of high-efficiency PSCs based on compact, large-grain, pinhole-free CH3NH3PbI3-xBrx (MAPbI3-xBrx) thin films with high reproducibility. A simple methylammonium bromide (MABr) treatment via spin-coating with a proper MABr concentration converts MAPbI3 thin films with different initial film qualities (for example, grain size and pinholes) to high-quality MAPbI3-xBrx thin films following an Ostwald ripening process, which is strongly affected by MABr concentration and is ineffective when replacing MABr with methylammonium iodide. A higher MABr concentration enhances I-Br anion exchange reaction, yielding poorer device performance. This MABr-selective Ostwald ripening process improves cell efficiency but also enhances device stability and thus represents a simple, promising strategy for further improving PSC performance with higher reproducibility and reliability.
Following the first experimental realization of graphene, other ultrathin materials with unprecedented electronic properties have been explored, with particular attention given to the heavy group-IV elements Si, Ge and Sn. Two-dimensional buckled Si-based silicene has been recently realized by molecular beam epitaxy growth, whereas Ge-based germanene was obtained by molecular beam epitaxy and mechanical exfoliation. However, the synthesis of Sn-based stanene has proved challenging so far. Here, we report the successful fabrication of 2D stanene by molecular beam epitaxy, confirmed by atomic and electronic characterization using scanning tunnelling microscopy and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, in combination with first-principles calculations. The synthesis of stanene and its derivatives will stimulate further experimental investigation of their theoretically predicted properties, such as a 2D topological insulating behaviour with a very large bandgap, and the capability to support enhanced thermoelectric performance, topological superconductivity and the near-room-temperature quantum anomalous Hall effect.