Micro-patterning colloidal quantum dots based light sources for cellular array imaging
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Lab-on-chip systems have been developed for various applications like point of care diagnostics and compact imaging systems. Compact, on-chip imaging systems face a challenge in the integration of multicolor light sources on-chip. This is because of the unavailability of compact, individually addressable, multicolor light sources on a single planar substrate. Colloidal Quantum Dot based Light Emitting Diodes (QDLEDs), which have found wide appeal, due to their unique properties like their tunable and narrow emission bandwidth and easy fabrication, are ideal for lab-on-chip integration. Among different types of QDLED structures implemented, inorganic QDLEDs have shown great promise. We have demonstrated designs and fabrication strategies for creating QDLEDs with enhanced performance. In particular: (I) We introduce a sandwich structure with a spin coated inorganic hole transporting layer of nickel oxide underlying the QD layer and with a spin coated zinc oxide electron transporting layer, with patterning of anode and cathode on the substrate. Compared to the use of sputtered thin films, solution processed charge transporting layers (CTLs) improve robustness of the device, as crystalline ZnO shows low CB and VB edge energy levels, efficiently suppressing hole leakage current resulting in LEDs with longer lifetimes. We also use Atomic Layer Deposition to deposit an additional hole injecting layer to protect the QDs from direct contact with the anode. With this device design, we demonstrate a working lifetime of more than 12 hours and a shelf-life of more than 240 days for the devices. Our solution based process is applicable to micro-contact printed and also spin-coated QD films. QDLEDs with spin-coated CTLs show a lifetime increase of more than three orders of magnitude compared to devices made using sputtered CTLs. (II) We implement strategies of the enhancement of light extraction from the fabricated QDLEDs. We discuss the integration of a two dimensional grating structure based on a metal-dielectric-metal plasmonic waveguide with the metal electrode of a QDLED, with the aim of enhancing the light intensity by resonant suppression of transmitted light. The grating structure reflects the light coupled with the metal electrode in the QDLED and we found an increase of 34.72% in the electroluminescence intensity from the area of the pattern and an increase of 32.63% from photoluminescence of QDs deposited on a metal surface. (III) We demonstrate the capability of our fabricated devices as a light source by measuring intensity across stained cells with QDLEDs of two different wavelengths and show the correlation as expected with the absorption profile of the fluorescent dye. We measure the absorption from the biological samples using QDLEDs fabricated with various design modifications, as a quantification of the improvements in device performance, directly affecting to our target application.