Optoelectronic materials form the building blocks of crucial components of modern technology, including solar cells, CCDs, lasers and LEDs. The past decade has seen significant developments in materials science that enable the shrinking of these materials to the nano-scale. These advancements have also created entirely new technologies based around light manipulation. We can now create nano-scale light sources, nano-scale light detectors and nano-scale optics: so we can build a chip that performs processes using light instead of electrical signals.
An important component of these devices are nanowires: these can act as on-chip light sources and tiny optical fibers, essentially the power and wiring of a light based circuit. As materials are shrunk towards the nano-scale, their performance is affected strongly by their size, providing a handle to tune performance of these nanowires to suit the application. However, herein lies one of the major challenges of this technology; it remains difficult to accurately and repeatedly control the size of these nano-materials when they are made leading to an unwanted spread in their performance.
High-throughput experiments to study inhomogeneity
Stephen Church of the OMS Lab worked with colleagues in the Joselevich group at the Weizmann Institute in Israel to developed a methodology to optimize these nano-materials by harnessing the inherent variation using big data approaches. He has developed an automated microscope that can study the properties of more than 10,000 individual nano-wires with a suite of different optical experiments. This approach produces a vast dataset that, when considered together, describes the nano-material and can therefore be used to establish the best way to optimize their performance. Crucially, this approach requires very little prior knowledge of the sample and can be applied generally to new nano-materials.
Soft nanowires and the impact of strain
In their recent paper, we demonstrate this approach on wires made of halide perovskites, an emerging material touted for its superior light emission and detection. The material is also “soft”, deforming to fit on its substrate; this causes further spread in properties as the thickness of the wire changes. The big data approach shows the impact of this deformation on the color and the efficiency of light emission from the nano-wires, and shows how the degree of deformation varies across the population.
This publication is made up of more than just a journal report. The raw data has been made available via FigShare, and the analysis code via github. It is possible to explore and manipulate the raw data using the Google Colab platform.
Reference: Holistic Determination of Optoelectronic Properties using High-Throughput Spectroscopy of Surface-Guided CsPbBr3 Nanowires, Stephen A. Church, Hoyeon Choi, Nawal Al-Amairi, Ruqaiya Al-Abri, Ella Sanders, Eitan Oksenberg, Ernesto Joselevich and Patrick W. Parkinson, ACS Nano (2022) DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.2c01086