This Emmy-Noether Research group will explore novel ways to realize band-like transport in quantum dot (QD) solids. We will utilize three complimentary methodologies – namely transport measurements at cryogenic temperatures, in-situ conductance measurements during electrochemical cycling and optical spectroscopy – for a rigorous determination of the dominant transport mechanism. This will allow us to differentiate between temperature-activated hopping, small polaron hopping and band-like transport.
At first, n-type CdSe QDs capped with halides are explored to establish a reference system. These materials exhibit very large field-effect mobilities (> 10 cm2/V-s) such that they are likely candidates for band-like transport to be operative. However, due to a mandatory annealing step during device fabrication, there is growing skepticism as to whether the reported mobilities reflect transport through QDs at all and not through a bulk subphase. Addressing this question is one of the aims of this project.
The next goal is the assessment of the transport mechanism in so-called “Coupled Organic-Inorganic Nanostructures (COIN). Here, an organic semiconductor (OSC) is used to couple adjacent QDs chemically and electronically to provide channels for efficient carrier transport. We will investigate several n-type CdSe QD based COINs and study size-dependent transport with the three key methods detailed above. The question to be answered is to which degree OSCs are suitable to allow for band-like transport in COINs. Again, temperature-resolved transport measurements will be used to determine the operative transport mechanism, while spectroelectrochemistry will play a pivotal role in revealing the role of the OSC molecular orbitals for transport. The long-term perspective, also beyond the envisioned funding period, is to establish COINs as the leading concept for hybrid nanostructured materials with band-like transport behavior and excellent opportunities for optoelectronic applications, such as photovoltaics, light-emitting diodes or photodetectors.
The third project task expands the COIN concept to QDs functionalized with photo-switchable linker molecules. The photochromism is exploited to switch this COIN between an “OFF” and an “ON” state by an external optical stimulus via the change of the HOMO-LUMO gap of the photochromic linker. In the ON state, the LUMO energy is in resonance with the first excited electron state of the QDs to allow for efficient carrier transport. Switching into the other conformer (the OFF state) moves the LUMO out of resonance and blocks the channel for carrier transport. We will again explore the transport mechanism in this photoswitchable COIN with our three key methodologies and investigate to which degree transport can be modulated by the photochromism.
June 2016 - May 2021
DFG, Emmy Noether research group