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Liu, Z.; Ren, K.; Dai, G.; Zhang, J. Improvement in Light Extraction Efficiency. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 22 June 2024).
Liu Z, Ren K, Dai G, Zhang J. Improvement in Light Extraction Efficiency. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 22, 2024.
Liu, Zhaoyong, Kailin Ren, Gaoyu Dai, Jianhua Zhang. "Improvement in Light Extraction Efficiency" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 22, 2024).
Liu, Z., Ren, K., Dai, G., & Zhang, J. (2023, July 12). Improvement in Light Extraction Efficiency. In Encyclopedia.
Liu, Zhaoyong, et al. "Improvement in Light Extraction Efficiency." Encyclopedia. Web. 12 July, 2023.
Improvement in Light Extraction Efficiency

As one of the important performance indicators of Micro-LEDs, external quantum efficiency (EQE) refers to the ratio of the final emitted photon number to the injected carrier number, which can be obtained by the product of the light extraction efficiency (LEE) and internal quantum efficiency (IQE). Therefore, EQE can be improved by improving the LEE. 

Micro-LED metasurface light extraction efficiency

1. Introduction

Micro-LEDs have attracted much attention owing to their advantages of high luminous intensity, high resolution, high contrast, fast response speed, long lifespan, and low power consumption. Due to these excellent performance traits, Micro-LEDs are regarded as the mainstream of next-generation display technology for a wide range of applications, from wearable devices such as wristbands and watches to commercial billboards, public displays, and virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) devices [1][2][3][4][5]. However, challenges have also arisen with the development of Micro-LED display technology, such as mass transfer, full-color display, and size-dependent efficiency [6][7]. The luminous efficiency of Micro-LEDs decreases rapidly as the size decreases, so it is necessary to improve the light extraction efficiency (LEE) to improve the external quantum efficiency (EQE) [8]. Nowadays, there are many methods to improve LEE.
The metasurface is an artificial nanostructure that is designed to control the amplitude, polarization, and phase of incident waves at the subwavelength scale [9][10][11][12]. Metasurface structures can realize the above functions with the premise that the incident light must be coherent [13]. However, a typical Micro-LED exhibits Lambertian-shaped emission [14]. Light emitted in any direction has very low spatial coherence, so it is a key issue to realize control of the Micro-LED wavefront with metasurface. Therefore, the researchers introduced reflective mirrors at the bottom and top of the Micro-LED to form a Fabry–Perot (F-P) cavity structure [13], so that the emitted light is concentrated in a narrow angular range after resonance selection through the cavity, which can enhance the spatial coherence of the emitted light, and the collimation of the emitted light also improves the LEE. In this case, the integration with the metasurface structures can realize the deflection of the beam angle, and the light can be emitted to the preset position to fully utilize the emitted light.
In addition, Micro-LEDs that emit polarized light play a key role in near-eye displays, but obtaining polarized emission from LEDs requires complex design and manufacturing [15]. Moreover, obtaining polarized light emission is difficult due to the weak anisotropy of Micro-LEDs, so wave plates are needed to improve the anisotropy of Micro-LEDs. However, traditional wave plates are not conducive to Micro-LED integration due to their large size. The appearance of the metasurface structures solves these problems because of their small size and simple implementation process [16]. Moreover, the combination of metasurface structures and optical gratings can realize linear and circular polarization.

2. Improvement in Light Extraction Efficiency

As one of the important performance indicators of Micro-LEDs, EQE refers to the ratio of the final emitted photon number to the injected carrier number, which can be obtained by the product of the LEE and internal quantum efficiency (IQE). Therefore, EQE can be improved by improving the LEE. Currently, methods to improve the LEE of Micro-LEDs include flip chip technology, transparent substrate technology, patterned substrate technology, surface microstructure technology, and bottom reflector technology [17][18][19].

2.1. Improvement in the LEE by Metasurface Structures

Since the refractive index of the surface material of Micro-LEDs is much larger than that of air, the full reflection angle of the light emitted by Micro-LEDs into the air is very small, causing total reflection phenomena to very easily appear, which is also one of the reasons for the low LEE [20]. The integrated metasurface structures on the top surface of Micro-LEDs can not only effectively expand the light emitting area of Micro-LEDs, but also change the incident angle of light on the inner surface of the semiconductor, thus destroying the total reflection condition of part of the light so as to significantly improve the LEE.
Mao et al. proposed disordered metasurface LEDs by studying the distribution and size of the cuticle fringes in fireflies [21]. The metasurface structure changed from an orderly arrangement of square gratings to a curved top surface, then to a disordered arrangement, and was finally designed as Ag nanoparticles with a curved top surface and disordered arrangement. LEDs with Ag-free nanoparticles were compared with those with Ag nanoparticles. 
The fundamental reason is that due to the diffraction effect of the nanopattern of the medium, more photons fall into the escape cone, resulting in a directional emission pattern. The far-field intensity of PeLEDs with Ag nanopatterns was significantly increased by eight times compared with planar PeLEDs. The optical power loss ratios of planar and nanopatterned PeLEDs at 780 nm wavelength were investigated. The ratios presented that the waveguide mode caused by the large refractive index difference between the active layer and ITO layer is an important factor limiting the LEE.

2.2. Improvement in the LEE by Metasurface Structure in Organic LEDs (OLEDs) or Micro-OLEDs

Metasurfaces are also widely used in OLEDs or Micro-OLEDs to improve the LEE. In 2016, Zhou et al. proposed integrating a speckle image holography (SIH) metasurface at the top to obtain OLEDs with high contrast and high efficiency [22]. The SIH metasurface, due to its “regional characteristics”, has a wide viewing angle and high contrast directional gain that allows control of the non-interference wavefront generated by the emission layer. Compared with OLEDs with one-dimensional gratings integrated at the top, the efficiency improvement in the SIH metasurface is not affected by wavelength, while the enhanced LEE of the one-dimensional gratings is dependent on wavelength and angle due to resonance. The power and EQE improvement in the SIH metasurface are 1.5 times and 1.4 times of one-dimensional gratings, respectively. Next year, by experimenting with three different OLEDs, fluorescent green OLEDs, phosphorescent red OLEDs, and phosphorescent blue OLEDs, the team compared the results of SIH metasurface OLEDs with one-dimensional gratings and flat OLEDs, and found the same experimental results. These results demonstrated that the SIH metasurface improved the LEE and light control independent of material, wavelength, and radiation angle [23].
In OLEDs, in addition to the SIH metasurface, supergrating structure is also a common method to improve the LEE of OLEDs [24][25]. Compared with OLEDs without supergratings, the light output intensity of supergrating OLEDs is 4.8 times higher at 510 nm. The reflected supergratings effectively couple the beam captured in the waveguide mode to enhance the LEE. The team compared the effects of periodic and quasi-periodic supergratings on the luminescence intensity of OLEDs and found that although periodic supergratings are enhanced more, the polarization dependence is very strong. Therefore, periodic supergratings need to be replaced by quasi-periodic supergratings in some specific applications. Kang et al. reported a nanoslot metasurface enhances the LEE of OLEDs [26]. The structural parameters of nanoslots include width W and length L1 and L2. The addition of nanoslot metasurface can induce surface plasmon (SP) and localized SP mechanisms to enhance the external coupling efficiency and reduce the ambient light reflectance of OLEDs. The change in metasurface layer thickness has an influence on both external coupling efficiency and environmental reflectance; thus, the properties of both should be considered to strike a balance when changing the thickness. The structural parameters of nanoslots have little effect on the external coupling efficiency, but have a great effect on the reflectance. Therefore, a small reflectance can be obtained by adjusting the structural parameters of nanoslots. The performance of the optimized nanoslot metasurface OLEDs is 15% higher than that of the traditional flat OLEDs.
In Micro-OLEDs, Lin et al. proposed using metalens to enhance the LEE [27]. Through simulations, it was found that metalens can convert different wave vectors into directly emitted wave vectors in a single interaction with light, thereby improving the LEE of Micro-OLEDs. It is worth noting that metalens does not require multiple interactions with photons, i.e., multiple reflections are not needed. Therefore, metalens exhibits strong optical coupling effects. When the focal length is between 1.6 and 2.2, Micro-OLEDs with metalens exhibit a significant improvement in EQE compared to traditional Micro-OLEDs. These technologies are expected to boost AR/VR.


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