Wave Function Engineering for Ultrafast Charge Separation and Slow Charge Recombination in Type II Core/Shell Quantum Dots

Department of Chemistry, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.
Journal of the American Chemical Society (Impact Factor: 11.44). 06/2011; 133(22):8762-71. DOI: 10.1021/ja202752s
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The size dependence of optical and electronic properties of semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) have been extensively studied in various applications ranging from solar energy conversion to biological imaging. Core/shell QDs allow further tuning of these properties by controlling the spatial distributions of the conduction-band electron and valence-band hole wave functions through the choice of the core/shell materials and their size/thickness. It is possible to engineer type II core/shell QDs, such as CdTe/CdSe, in which the lowest energy conduction-band electron is largely localized in the shell while the lowest energy valence-band hole is localized in the core. This spatial distribution enables ultrafast electron transfer to the surface-adsorbed electron acceptors due to enhanced electron density on the shell materials, while simultaneously retarding the charge recombination process because the shell acts as a tunneling barrier for the core localized hole. Using ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy, we show that in CdTe/CdSe-anthraquinone (AQ) complexes, after the initial ultrafast (~770 fs) intra-QD electron transfer from the CdTe core to the CdSe shell, the shell-localized electron is transferred to the adsorbed AQ with a half-life of 2.7 ps. The subsequent charge recombination from the reduced acceptor, AQ(-), to the hole in the CdTe core has a half-life of 92 ns. Compared to CdSe-AQ complexes, the type II band alignment in CdTe/CdSe QDs maintains similar ultrafast charge separation while retarding the charge recombination by 100-fold. This unique ultrafast charge separation and slow recombination property, coupled with longer single and multiple exciton lifetimes in type II QDs, suggests that they are ideal light-harvesting materials for solar energy conversion.

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