Samples for single-emitter spectroscopy are usually prepared by spin-coating a dilute solution of emitters on a microscope cover slip of silicate based glass (such as quartz). Here, we show that both borosilicate glass and quartz contain intrinsic defect colour centres that fluoresce when excited at 532 nm. In a microscope image the defect emission is indistinguishable from spin-coated emitters. The emission spectrum is characterised by multiple peaks with the main peak between 2.05 and 2.20 eV, most likely due to coupling to a silica vibration with an energy that varies between 160 and 180 meV. The defects are single-photon emitters, do not blink, and have photoluminescence lifetimes of a few nanoseconds. Photoluminescence from such defects may previously have been misinterpreted as originating from single nanocrystal quantum dots.

Sci. Rep.
Resonant Nanophotonics

Rabouw, F., Cogan, N. M. B., Berends, A. C., van der Stam, W., Vanmaekelbergh, D. A., Koenderink, F., … de Mello Donega, C. (2016). Non-blinking single-photon emitters in silica. Sci. Rep., 6(Article number: 21187), 1–7. doi:10.1038/srep21187