Using an advanced technique of droplet-assisted molecular beam epitaxy that was developed in their group, the researchers successfully increased antimony incorporation in the nanowires with high optical properties. This technology solved the long-standing challenge in the growth of optically efficient antimony containing nanowires. Their nanowires exhibit photoluminescence up to room temperature with the longest wavelength being 5.1 μm, and show a complete pure zinc-blende crystalline phase.

The success of these nanowires makes a step towards silicon-based infrared focal plane arrays. The researchers are currently developing highly sensitive room-temperature infrared photodetectors based on their nanowires. They are also exploring the advantages of the high mobility and photovoltaic favourable features for device applications in silicon-based high-mobility transistors and sustainable energy generation including cost-effective thermoelectric and thermophotovoltaic cells, in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Science and Tsinghua University in China.

Full details are reported in Nanotechnology.