Researchers have discovered that the chemical compound Ca3SiO is a direct transition semiconductor, making it a potentially promising infrared LED and infrared detector component. This semiconductor compound–composed of calcium, silicon, and oxygen–is cheap to produce and non-toxic. Many of the existing infrared semiconductors contain toxic chemical elements, such as cadmium and tellurium. Ca3SiO may be used to develop less expensive and safer near-infrared semiconductors.
Infrared wavelengths have been used for many purposes, including optical fiber communications, photovoltaic power generation, and night vision devices. Existing semiconductors capable of emitting infrared radiation (i.e., direct transition semiconductors) contain toxic chemical compounds. It is desirable to develop high-performance infrared devices using non-toxic, direct transition semiconductor compound with a bandgap in the infrared range.
The researchers plan to develop high-intensity infrared LEDs and highly sensitive infrared detectors by synthesizing these compounds in the form of large single-crystals, developing thin film growth processes, and controlling their physical properties through doping and transforming them into solid solutions.