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Blue-light-emitting color centers in high-quality hexagonal boron nitride


Light emitters in wide-band-gap semiconductors are of great fundamental interest and have potential as optically addressable qubits. Here we describe a unique color center in high-quality hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) with a sharp emission line at 435 nm. The emitters are activated and deactivated by electron beam irradiation and have spectral and temporal characteristics consistent with atomic color centers weakly coupled to lattice vibrations. The emitters are conspicuously absent from commercially available h-BN and are present in only ultrahigh-quality h-BN grown using a high-pressure, high-temperature Ba-B-N flux/solvent, suggesting that these emitters originate from impurities or related defects specific to this unique synthetic route. Our results imply that the light emission is activated and deactivated by electron beam manipulation of the charge state of an impurity-defect complex.

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