Physical Chemistry of Nanocrystals

Inorganic nanocrystals exhibit unique electronic structures which greatly affect the way photons are absorbed by electrons and how charge carriers recombine to emit light. We utilize these light-matter interactions for application of nanocrystals in optical transceivers for data communication as well as the design of light emitting diodes. To this end, we pursue a strongly interdisciplinary approach between chemistry and physics, including bottom-up, colloidal chemistry for the synthesis of the nanomaterials, electric transport measurements, time-resolved photocurrent spectroscopy, optical lithography and electrochemistry.

Optical Transceivers

Over the past three decades, data communication rates have seen a steady increase of 50 % per year, also because of the growing utilization of optical fiber cables. When the optical data arrives at the consumer, it must be converted into electrical data, since conventional computers operate entirely with electric transistors. This crucial task is carried out in every data communication network by so-called “optical transceivers”. A growing problem in this respect is that a lot of research and development is devoted towards increasing the speed of optical data transmission in the fibers, but not in the optical transceivers. This is analogous to expanding the number of lanes on a motorway but neglecting the need for frequent and fast exits. Our goal is to develop new materials for better, faster optical transceivers to help increase data communication rates.

Quantum Light Emitting Diodes (QLEDs)

LEDs have revolutionized the way we light-up our world. From smart phone displays, high-definition television screens over car headlights with unprecedented range to energy-efficient and warm lighting applications at home – LEDs are ubiquitous. Nonetheless, the technology behind LEDs is still dynamically evolving. While recent years have seen the breakthrough and wide-spread economic success of organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), a new class of materials has emerged as an attractive alternative, especially in television screens: Quantum Dots in so-called QLEDs. Quantum dots are semiconductor nanocrystals which emit extremely color-pure light, leading to a visual perception of a QLED display as extraordinarily rich in contrast and brilliant. However from a device standpoint, QLEDs are not so much diodes but rather color filters which convert a bright blue backlight into additional shade of red and green. This is because of the unsolved challenge to make QLED materials that at the same time are bright emitters and good electric conductors as required for a true diode. Our goal is to make nanomaterials for QLEDs that overcome this challenge.