Electroluminescence and Photoluminescence from Nanostructured Diatom Frustules Containing Metabolically Inserted Germanium


  • This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Team (NIRT) award number BES-0400648. Electron microscopy images were expertly obtained by Timothy Gutu at the Center for Electron Microscopy and Nanofabrication, Portland State University.


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Diatoms are single-celled algae that possess silica shells called “frustules” decorated with periodic structures ordered at the micro- and nanoscale. Diatom biosilica containing metabolically inserted germanium is used to fabricate an electroluminescent (EL) thin film device (see figure). The EL spectrum has a series of sharp UV line emissions at 340–380 nm and weaker bands in the blue and red range.