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Stress and strain, applied in just the right manner, can sometimes produce amazing results.

That is what researchers, led by a team at UC Berkeley's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, discovered about an emerging semiconductor material—black phosphorous (BP)—used to make two types of optoelectronic devices: light emitting diodes (LEDs) and photodetectors.

Under mechanical strain, BP can be induced to emit or detect infrared (IR) light in a range of desirable wavelengths—2.3 to 5.5 micrometers, which spans the short- to mid-wave IR—and to do so reversibly at , according to study authors Ali Javey, Lam Research Distinguished Chair in Semiconductor Processing and professor of , and postdoctoral fellow Hyungjin Kim. Javey is also a faculty senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Their findings are significant not only for the ability to reach these wavelengths, Javey and Kim said, but to do so tunably and in one . Current technology would require multiple bulky devices and differing semiconductor materials to achieve similar results.

They described their findings in Nature.

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