Zinc oxide (ZnO) nanowire waveguide lasers have lacked the p-type material that would make them useful for real-world light emission applications. But a team of researchers led by Jianlin Liu, professor of electrical engineering at University of California, Riverside, have overcome this by doping the nanowires with antimony.1 Connecting the resulting p-type nanowires with n-type ZnO material to form a p-n junction diode enables the devices to be powered by a battery and emit highly directional laser light from only the ends of the wires.
While Liu and his students have demonstrated the p-type doping of ZnO and electrically powered nanowire waveguide lasing in the ultraviolet range, he said more work still needs to be done with the stability and reliability of the p-type material. Still, the work is intriguing for its implications.
1. S. Chu et al., Nature Nanotechnol., doi:10.1038/nnano.2011.97 (2011).