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Photonic upconversion in solution-processed Gd-based thin films for delayed quantum efficiency roll-off in a-Si flat panel image detectors

  • Nidhi Dua (a1), Soumen Saha (a1) and Madhusudan Singh (a1)

Abstract

Amorphous Si (a-Si) is used for fabrication of commercial low-cost flat panel image detectors for radiographic applications such as computed tomography (CT) imaging. a-Si photodiodes are known to exhibit a rapid decrease in quantum efficiency near 750nm. While crystalline Si does not suffer from such an early decline, the large-area and low-cost constraints of medical imagers make it challenging and costly to use crystalline Si for such devices. In this work, we report on the development of a sensitive layer for upconversion from 785 nm to green region of the spectrum, which nearly matches the peak quantum efficiency of a-Si detectors. Various host materials have been extensively studied in literature with rare earth ions such as Er3+(emission: green+red), Tm3+(emission: blue), Ho3+(emission: red+green) along with Yb3+ as a sensitizer for upconversion to the visible regime at high incident optical power (∼100 mW) for colloidal solutions. We carried out a thermal decomposition synthesis of NaYF4:Yb(18%),Er(2%),Gd(15%) at moderate temperature (∼320°C), resulting in a nearly pure hexagonal phase material. This is confirmed by powder X-ray diffraction (PXRD) of the unannealed sample with a lattice constant (∼5.17 Å). High-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) measurements reveal the formation of nearly spherical nanoparticles. The observed plane ([100]) inferred from lattice fringes in TEM data with a visibly estimated interplanar distance (4.4±1.6 Å) is in reasonable agreement with standard data (∼5.17 Å) for comparable NaYF4-based materials. Excitation (785 nm) of the deposited thin films of Gd-doped unannealed material at relatively low incident power (∼0.4 mW) exhibits a PL response in green (539 nm) and red (665 nm) region of the spectrum. Gd-based upconversion material based thin films are thus a feasible photonic material for potential effective extension of high quantum efficiency range in a-Si for flat panel image detectors.

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