Photophysical properties of ball milled silicon nanostructures†
Luminescent silicon nanocrystals (SiNCs) have attracted scientific interest for their potential use in LEDs, displays, lasers, photovoltaic spectral-shifting filters and for biomedical applications. A lot of efforts have been made to improve the radiative emission rate in SiNCs, mostly using quantum confinement, strain and ligands. Existing methods, however, are not easily upscalable, as they do not provide the high material yield required for industrial applications. Besides, the photoluminescence (PL) efficiency of SiNCs emitting in the visible spectral range also remains very low. Hence, there is a need to develop a low-cost method for high material yield of brightly emitting SiNCs. Theoretically, strain can be used alongside quantum confinement to modify the radiative emission rates and band-gaps. In view of that, high-energy ball milling is a method that can be used to produce large quantities of highly strained SiNCs. In this technique, balls with high kinetic energy collide with the walls of a chamber and other balls, crushing the particles in between, followed by welding, fracture and re-welding phenomena, reducing the particle size and increasing strains in the samples. In this study, we have used high-energy ball milling in an inert gas atmosphere to synthesize SiNCs and study their photophysical properties. The induced accumulation of high strain, quantum confinement and possibly also impurities in the SiNCs resulted in visible light spectrum PL at room temperature. This method is low cost and easily up-scalable to industrial scale.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Luminescent silicon nanostructures