Light-Emitting GaAs Nanowires on a Flexible Substrate

Semiconductor nanowire-based devices are among the most promising structures used to meet the current challenges of electronics, optics and photonics. Due to their high surface-to-volume ratio and excellent optical and electrical properties, devices with low power, high efficiency and high density can be created. This is of major importance for environmental issues and economic impact. Semiconductor nanowires have been used to fabricate high performance devices, including detectors, solar cells and transistors. Here, we demonstrate a technique for transferring large-area nanowire arrays to flexible substrates while retaining their excellent quantum efficiency in emission. Starting with a defect-free self-catalyzed molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) sample grown on a Si substrate, GaAs core–shell nanowires are embedded in a dielectric, removed by reactive ion etching and transferred to a plastic substrate. The original structural and optical properties, including the vertical orientation, of the nanowires are retained in the final plastic substrate structure. Nanowire emission is observed for all stages of the fabrication process, with a higher emission intensity observed for the final transferred structure, consistent with a reduction in nonradiative recombination via the modification of surface states. This transfer process could form the first critical step in the development of flexible nanowire-based light-emitting devices.