Charles Roques-Carmes, Steven E. Kooi, Yi Yang, Aviram Massuda, Phillip D. Keathley, Aun Zaidi, Yujia Yang, John D. Joannopoulos, Karl K. Berggren, Ido Kaminer & Marin Soljačić
Extracting light from silicon is a longstanding challenge in modern engineering and physics. While silicon has underpinned the past 70 years of electronics advancement, a facile tunable and efficient silicon-based light source remains elusive. Here, we experimentally demonstrate the generation of tunable radiation from a one-dimensional, all-silicon nanograting. Light is generated by the spontaneous emission from the interaction of these nanogratings with low-energy free electrons (2–20 keV) and is recorded in the wavelength range of 800‑1600 nm, which includes the silicon transparency window. Tunable free-electron-based light generation from nanoscale silicon gratings with efficiencies approaching those from metallic gratings is demonstrated. We theoretically investigate the feasibility of a scalable, compact, all-silicon tunable light source comprised of a silicon Field Emitter Array integrated with a silicon nanograting that emits at telecommunication wavelengths. Our results reveal the prospects of a CMOS-compatible electrically-pumped silicon light source for possible applications in the mid-infrared and telecommunication wavelengths.