Diamond may become UV laser

June 1, 2000
TOKYO?Researchers at Tokyo Gas have developed an ultraviolet (UV) emission element based on synthetic diamonds (see photo). Doping the diamonds with boron and turning them into p-type semiconductors causes excitons (electron/hole pairs bound by Coulombic forces) to be formed when current is applied.

Incorporating news from O plus E magazine, Tokyo

TOKYO—Researchers at Tokyo Gas have developed an ultraviolet (UV) emission element based on synthetic diamonds (see photo). Doping the diamonds with boron and turning them into p-type semiconductors causes excitons (electron/hole pairs bound by Coulombic forces) to be formed when current is applied. When these pairs recombine, light at 235 nm is emitted.

To achieve emission, a crystal with extremely high purity and few defects is necessary. Until now, neither natural nor synthetic diamonds could adequately serve this purpose. Conventional diamonds could emit only long-wavelength light caused by impurities and lattice defects.

Diamond-based ultraviolet emitter produces incoherent light. Diamond may one day be the basis for UV semiconductor lasers.
Click here to enlarge image

Tokyo Gas imports a large amount of liquid natural gas. The company has been conducting research on carbon powder extraction from methane, a primary component of natural gas. The successful production of the new UV emission element can be attributed to the high-quality diamonds manufactured using this carbon powder. By subjecting the powder to a high-pressure, high-temperature environment of about 50,000 atmospheres and 1500°C, single-crystal diamonds with a diameter of 2-3 mm were made. Impurities and defects were kept at a minimum by using fine-control mechanisms and melting agents. Plans for making p-n junctions are underway, with the goal of making lasers within the next five years.

Possible applications of such lasers include high-density optical storage and lighting based on UV-stimulated fluorescence. The extreme durability of diamond gives it an advantage over other semiconductor materials with regard to high-output emission, according to the researchers.

Courtesy O plus E magazine, Tokyo

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