Hybrid Material Fulfils Industry Wavelength Range and Cost Demands for Optoelectronics

April 17, 2020 by Luke James

Many devices, such as digital cameras and sensors, require optoelectronic components. To satisfy the increasing demand for these components, the industry is constantly searching for new semiconductor materials.

Now, a Ph.D. student at Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) has developed a hybrid metal that fulfills two important requirements: Being able to cover a broad range of wavelengths while remaining inexpensive.

The student, Himani Arora, demonstrated that this metal-organic framework can be used as a broadband photodetector. It does not contain any expensive raw materials, meaning that it can be manufactured in bulk quantities.


A New MOF Compound for Optoelectronics

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are highly porous substances that are mostly composed of empty space. Up until now, they have mostly been used to store gases, for catalysis, or for the slow release of drugs in the human body.

However, the new MOF compound is comprised of an organic material integrated with iron ions. "The special thing about it is that the framework forms superimposed layers with semiconducting properties, which makes it potentially interesting for optoelectronic applications,” said Dr. Artur Erbe, head of HZDR’s “Transport in Nanostructures” group


Graphic depicting photodetector developed by physicists from HZDR and TU Dresden.

A graphic provided by HZDR representing the effect of the photodetector they have developed, which can detect and transform a broad range of light wavelengths into electrical signals


Promising Applications for Consumer Devices

When Ph.D. student Himani Arora investigated the two-dimensional MOF semiconductor’s electrical properties, she found that it could detect a broad range of light wavelengths from 400 to 1575 nm.

Thanks to this and the MOF compound’s electronic properties, namely it's small bandgap that requires “very little light energy” to induce electricity, photodetectors based on it could hold lots of promise for a broad range of optoelectronic applications including consumer devices like digital cameras. 

The team’s next steps, said Erbe, include scaling the layer thickness and making the MOF films thinner by reducing the superimposed layers to 70nm so that they can be integrated into components.