Novel hybrid organic/inorganic 2D quasiperiodic PC: from diffraction pattern to vertical light extraction
© Petti et al; licensee Springer. 2011
Received: 21 February 2011
Accepted: 4 May 2011
Published: 4 May 2011
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© Petti et al; licensee Springer. 2011
Received: 21 February 2011
Accepted: 4 May 2011
Published: 4 May 2011
Recently, important efforts have been dedicated to the realization of a fascinating class of new photonic materials or metamaterials, known as photonic quasicrystals (PQCs), in which the lack of the translational symmetry is compensated by rotational symmetries not achievable by the conventional periodic crystals. As ever, more advanced functionality is demanded and one strategy is the introduction of non-linear and/or active functionality in photonic materials. In this view, core/shell nanorods (NRs) are a promising active material for light-emitting applications. In this article a two-dimensional (2D) hybrid a 2D octagonal PQC which consists of air rods in an organic/inorganic nanocomposite is proposed and experimentally demonstrated. The nanocomposite was prepared by incorporating CdSe/CdS core/shell NRs into a polymer matrix. The PQC was realized by electron beam lithography (EBL) technique. Scanning electron microscopy, far field diffraction and spectra measurements are used to characterize the experimental structure. The vertical extraction of the light, by the coupling of the modes guided by the PQC slab to the free radiation via Bragg scattering, consists of a narrow red emissions band at 690 nm with a full width at half-maximum (FWHM) of 21.5 nm. The original characteristics of hybrid materials based on polymers and colloidal NRs, able to combine the unique optical properties of the inorganic moiety with the processability of the host matrix, are extremely appealing in view of their technological impact on the development of new high performing optical devices such as organic light-emitting diodes, ultra-low threshold lasers, and non-linear devices.
PACS: 81.07.Pr Organic-inorganic hybrid nanostructures, 81.16.-c Methods of nanofabrication and processing, 42.70.Qs Photonic band-gap materials.
Quasiperiodic crystals are a new class of materials that exhibit long-range aperiodic translational order and high rotational symmetries [1, 2]. Unlike periodically arranged photonic crystals (or photonic band-gaps), photonic quasicrystals (PQCs) possess unique light localization and transport properties related to their complex, multi-fractal energy spectra [3–14].
PQCs possess photonic band-gaps (PBGs) with very interesting properties of light transmission [15, 16], wave guiding, and localization [17–19] exploited in an enormous variety of electro-optical and photonic applications. The existence of high rotational symmetries and many not equivalent defective states  not achievable by conventional periodic crystals opens the possibility to realize versatile, robust PBG devices even for low dielectric contrast materials like polymeric ones. Different from random structures, PQCs are defined by the iteration of simple mathematical rules, rooted in symbolic dynamics and prime number theory, which possess very rich spectral features . The structural complexity of PQCs is measured by their spatial Fourier spectra, which are discrete (singular) for quasiperiodic systems, singular-continuous, or absolutely continuous for pseudorandom structures of increasing complexity. Two-dimensional (2D) quasiperiodic lattices possessing high rotational symmetries have been largely studied in literature [21–26]. The experimental realization of 2D PQCs is a hard fabrication challenge. Two-beam and multiple-beam holographic lithography have been largely employed to realize periodic  and quasiperiodic  crystals at the mesoscale. Moreover, novel PBG aperiodic structures defined by recursive substitutional sequences like one-dimensional (1D) and 2D Thue-Morse patterns cannot be realized even in principle by multiple-beam interference. Experimental realization of photonic structures exhibiting large area 2D Thue-Morse arrangement has been recently reported by the authors for the first time to our knowledge .
Advances in 2D photonic structures are expected in the introduction of non-linear and/or active functionality into a 2D PQC. 1D semiconductor nanostructures are likewise promising materials both in fundamental research and in practical applications [30–33]. As an example, it has been shown that various types of semiconductor nanorods (NRs) have unique optical properties that make them appealing for applications in solar cells, light-emitting diodes, lasers, and cell labeling [33–36]. CdSe/CdS rods present the appealing characteristics of strong and tunable light emission from green to red, are highly fluorescent and show linearly polarized emission .
These characteristics open the way to a new class of hybrid devices based on polymers and colloidal NRs in which the unique optical properties of the inorganic moiety are combined with the processability of the host matrix to develop new high performing optical devices such as organic light-emitting diodes, ultra-low threshold lasers, and non-linear devices. One of the challenges of these applications is the incorporation of inorganic nanoparticles into organic polymer matrices, since this is usually accompanied by phase separation, aggregation of nanoparticles, loss of transparency, and luminescence quenching due to exciton energy transfer [38, 39].
In this paper, for the first time to our knowledge, a 2D hybrid eightfold symmetric aperiodically ordered PQC which consists of air rods in a nanocomposite prepared by incorporating CdSe/CdS core/shell nanorods (NRs) in a polymer is proposed and experimentally demonstrated. The semiconductor nanocrystal based 2D PQC was fabricated by directly patterning and releasing a thin film of a functional material composed by NRs dispersed in a positive electronic resist.
Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and optical measurements are used to characterize the structures. The vertical extraction of the light, by the coupling of the modes guided by the PQCs slab to the free radiation via Bragg scattering, consists of a narrow red emissions band at 690 nm with a FWHM of 21.5 nm.
We firstly fabricated CdSe/CdS NRs-PMMA polymer composite film by combining the CdSe/CdS NRs with PMMA of high optical transparency in the visible region and spin-coating the composite solution. Since PMMA is transparent in the visible spectral range and it is an electron-sensitive material, it was chosen as the embedding matrix for NRs. Clear nanocomposite films without bubbles and smooth surfaces with sizes up to 1.5 × 2.5 × 0.0000600 cm3 on an indium tin oxide (ITO) coated glass were obtained.
Our experimental structure was fabricated by using a high-resolution electron beam lithography (EBL) technique. The EBL facility employed consisted of a Raith 150 system. Such system enables the writing of patterns of arbitrary geometries with a spatial resolution up to 10 nm. The samples were obtained by exposing a layer of our mixture of CdSe/CdS NRs doped PMMA deposited on an ITO coated glass. The e-beam is locally focused on the sample to expose selected regions of material homogenously along the depth of the substrate according to the calculated desired pattern. Exposed areas were dissolved away leaving a 2D eightfold octagonal quasiperiodic structure made of air-filled cylinders, located at the vertices of the octagonal lattice, lying in the polymer matrix.
The resulting 2D QC is made of air rods embedded into a hybrid organic/inorganic matrix of CdSe/CdS NRs doped PMMA. The size of the patterned area is about 650 μm2. The air rods arrays were fabricated using EBL on quartz substrates with a 15 nm layer ITO for conduction. A 600-nm-thick layer of colloidal doped PMMA was spin-coated on top of the cleaned substrate. Subsequently, the nanopatterning was defined using the Raith 150 system with current and area dosage of 27.8 pA at 20 keV. The resist was developed in a 1:3 solution of methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK) and isopropanol (IPA).
The diffraction pattern possesses eightfold rotational symmetry, and contains a series of spots of different intensity, surrounding the central undiffracted beam. These spots can be associated with vectors in reciprocal space. The observed peaks are sharp and symmetrically distributed. Each order has rings of spots at different cone angles around the zero-order central spot. The picture clearly reveals the presence of quasiperiodicity within the sample.
The light propagating in the glass substrate which is extracted by diffraction was measured at room temperature using a multimode fiber, a CCD imaging telescope (OL610), and a CCD-based spectroradiometer (OL770-LED).
It has been studied that when the period of a two-dimensional photonic crystal is equal to the cavity wavelength of the guided mode, the guided waves propagating to several in-plane directions are coupled to the radiation mode in the direction normal to the device surface since the Bragg diffraction condition is satisfied. The vertical extraction of the light, by the coupling of the modes guided by the PC slab to the free radiation via Bragg scattering, is ruled by a phasematching condition, namely by the conservation of the in-plane component of the momentum at the air-dielectric interface .
In this work we patterned, for the first time to our knowledge, a nanocomposite containing colloidal semiconductor quantum rods of nanometer size scale to fabricate a novel 2D hybrid eightfold symmetric aperiodically ordered PQC. Our hybrid organic/inorganic nanocomposite is formed by using inorganic NRs, core/shell CdSe/CdS quantum rods, as inclusions in an organic polymer matrix (PMMA). Our nanocomposite has been prepared as a film in which each domain/inclusion can perform a specific photonic or optoelectronic (combined electronic and photonic) function. This permits introducing multifunctionality, and each of these functions can independently be optimized.
A semiconductor nanocrystals based 2D QPC pattern with rods with a diameter of 500 nm and a depth of 700 nm has been uniformly formed by EBL in a large area of 650 × 650 μm2. The diffraction effect of our sample has been confirmed and consists of a narrow red emission with a FWHM of 21.5 nm. The measured resonances peaks are due to the QPC feedback effect.
The possibility to pattern hybrid materials open the route to the development of new high performing optical devices such as organic light-emitting diodes, ultra-low threshold lasers, and non-linear devices. In a recent work of some of the authors  CdSe/CdS colloidal quantum rods have already proved to be very suitable in lasing applications. In future studies we shall focus our attention to lasing effects obtained in hybrid QPC microcavities and based on band edge engineering.
electron beam lithography
finite difference time domain
full width at half-maximum
indium tin oxide
methyl isobutyl ketone
scanning electron microscopy
transmission electron microscopy
We acknowledge Dr G. Zito for providing the pattern design. We gratefully thank Dr. Giuseppe Nenna of ENEA of Portici for very fruitful discussions and set-up support. This work is partially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (60977048).
This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.