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Physics – Semiconductors within the Highlight

• Physics 15, s102

A brand new mannequin means that lattice defects are answerable for the best way some semiconductors change into tougher below illumination.

J. Dong/MIT

Understanding how semiconductors reply to illumination has been essential to the event of photovoltaics and optical sensors. However some light-induced behaviors have been much less totally investigated. For instance, when some semiconductors are illuminated, their mechanical properties can change drastically, a phenomenon generally known as photoelasticity. Photoelastic supplies could possibly be helpful within the growth of versatile electronics, however researchers don’t perceive intimately the mechanism behind the impact. Now, primarily based on experiments and simulations, Rafael Jaramillo of the Massachusetts Institute of Know-how and colleagues current a brand new theoretical framework that explains photoelasticity when it comes to lattice defects [1].

The researchers used a diamond-tipped probe to make nanometer-scale indentations in samples of zinc oxide, zinc sulfide, and cadmium sulfide—first at nighttime, after which below a spread of seen and ultraviolet wavelengths. All three supplies hardened to various levels when illuminated, with cadmium sulfide exhibiting the biggest and most constant response. For each pattern, the impact elevated because the photon power elevated towards the fabric’s band hole.

The staff then modeled a number of unit cells of every materials, wanting particularly on the impact of lattice emptiness defects. These defects make the fabric softer, as they trigger atoms within the lattice to expertise, on common, much less repulsion from their neighbors. Upon illumination, nevertheless, atoms across the emptiness web site change into excited, rising their mutual repulsion and inflicting the fabric to stiffen. Jaramillo and colleagues discovered that they may tune a cloth’s illumination response by various the variety of defects within the lattice. They are saying that their discovery might result in the identification of supplies whose photoelasticity is extra pronounced or extra simply manipulated.

–Sophia Chen

Sophia Chen is a contract science author primarily based in Columbus, Ohio.


  1. J. Dong et al., “Large and controllable photoplasticity and photoelasticity in compound semiconductors,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 129, 065501 (2022).

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