Observation of a phonon bottleneck in copper-doped colloidal quantum dots.
ABSTRACT: Hot electrons can dramatically improve the efficiency of solar cells and sensitize energetically-demanding photochemical reactions. Efficient hot electron devices have been hindered by sub-picosecond intraband cooling of hot electrons in typical semiconductors via electron-phonon scattering. Semiconductor quantum dots were predicted to exhibit a "phonon bottleneck" for hot electron relaxation as their quantum-confined electrons would couple very inefficiently to phonons. However, typical cadmium selenide dots still exhibit sub-picosecond hot electron cooling, bypassing the phonon bottleneck possibly via an Auger-like process whereby the excessive energy of the hot electron is transferred to the hole. Here we demonstrate this cooling mechanism can be suppressed in copper-doped cadmium selenide colloidal quantum dots due to femtosecond hole capturing by copper-dopants. As a result, we observe a lifetime of ~8.6 picosecond for 1Pe hot electrons which is more than 30-fold longer than that in same-sized, undoped dots (~0.25 picosecond).
Project description:Thermalization losses limit the photon-to-power conversion of solar cells at the high-energy side of the solar spectrum, as electrons quickly lose their energy relaxing to the band edge. Hot-electron transfer could reduce these losses. Here, we demonstrate fast and efficient hot-electron transfer between lead selenide and cadmium selenide quantum dots assembled in a quantum-dot heterojunction solid. In this system, the energy structure of the absorber material and of the electron extracting material can be easily tuned via a variation of quantum-dot size, allowing us to tailor the energetics of the transfer process for device applications. The efficiency of the transfer process increases with excitation energy as a result of the more favorable competition between hot-electron transfer and electron cooling. The experimental picture is supported by time-domain density functional theory calculations, showing that electron density is transferred from lead selenide to cadmium selenide quantum dots on the sub-picosecond timescale.
Project description:Development of optoelectronic technologies based on quantum dots depends on measuring, optimizing, and ultimately predicting charge carrier dynamics in the nanocrystal. In such systems, size inhomogeneity and the photoexcited population distribution among various excitonic states have distinct effects on electron and hole relaxation, which are difficult to distinguish spectroscopically. Two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy can help to untangle these effects by resolving excitation energy and subsequent nonlinear response in a single experiment. Using a filament-generated continuum as a pump and probe source, we collect two-dimensional spectra with sufficient spectral bandwidth to follow dynamics upon excitation of the lowest three optical transitions in a polydisperse ensemble of colloidal CdSe quantum dots. We first compare to prior transient absorption studies to confirm excitation-state-dependent dynamics such as increased surface-trapping upon excitation of hot electrons. Second, we demonstrate fast band-edge electron-hole pair solvation by ligand and phonon modes, as the ensemble relaxes to the photoluminescent state on a sub-picosecond time-scale. Third, we find that static disorder due to size polydispersity dominates the nonlinear response upon excitation into the hot electron manifold; this broadening mechanism stands in contrast to that of the band-edge exciton. Finally, we demonstrate excitation-energy dependent hot-carrier relaxation rates, and we describe how two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy can complement other transient nonlinear techniques.
Project description:Hot carrier dynamics critically impacts the performance of electronic, optoelectronic, photovoltaic, and plasmonic devices. Hot carriers lose energy over nanometer lengths and picosecond timescales and thus are challenging to study experimentally, whereas calculations of hot carrier dynamics are cumbersome and dominated by empirical approaches. In this work, we present ab initio calculations of hot electrons in gallium arsenide (GaAs) using density functional theory and many-body perturbation theory. Our computed electron-phonon relaxation times at the onset of the ?, L, and X valleys are in excellent agreement with ultrafast optical experiments and show that the ultrafast (tens of femtoseconds) hot electron decay times observed experimentally arise from electron-phonon scattering. This result is an important advance to resolve a controversy on hot electron cooling in GaAs. We further find that, contrary to common notions, all optical and acoustic modes contribute substantially to electron-phonon scattering, with a dominant contribution from transverse acoustic modes. This work provides definitive microscopic insight into hot electrons in GaAs and enables accurate ab initio computation of hot carriers in advanced materials.
Project description:Understanding cooling of hot charge carriers in semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) is of fundamental interest and useful to enhance the performance of QDs in photovoltaics. We study electron and hole cooling dynamics in PbSe QDs up to high energies where carrier multiplication occurs. We characterize distinct cooling steps of hot electrons and holes and build up a broadband cooling spectrum for both charge carriers. Cooling of electrons is slower than of holes. At energies near the band gap we find cooling times between successive electronic energy levels in the order of 0.5 ps. We argue that here the large spacing between successive electronic energy levels requires cooling to occur by energy transfer to vibrational modes of ligand molecules or phonon modes associated with the QD surface. At high excess energy the energy loss rate of electrons is 1-5 eV/ps and exceeds 8 eV/ps for holes. Here charge carrier cooling can be understood in terms of emission of LO phonons with a higher density-of-states in the valence band than the conduction band. The complete mapping of the broadband cooling spectrum for both charge carriers in PbSe QDs is a big step toward understanding and controlling the cooling of hot charge carriers in colloidal QDs.
Project description:Hot electrons established by the absorption of high-energy photons typically thermalize on a picosecond time scale in a semiconductor, dissipating energy via various phonon-mediated relaxation pathways. Here it is shown that a strong hot carrier distribution can be produced using a type-II quantum well structure. In such systems it is shown that the dominant hot carrier thermalization process is limited by the radiative recombination lifetime of electrons with reduced wavefunction overlap with holes. It is proposed that the subsequent reabsorption of acoustic and optical phonons is facilitated by a mismatch in phonon dispersions at the InAs-AlAsSb interface and serves to further stabilize hot electrons in this system. This lengthens the time scale for thermalization to nanoseconds and results in a hot electron distribution with a temperature of 490 K for a quantum well structure under steady-state illumination at room temperature.
Project description:Halide perovskites exhibit unique slow hot-carrier cooling properties capable of unlocking disruptive perovskite photon-electron conversion technologies (e.g., high-efficiency hot-carrier photovoltaics, photo-catalysis, and photodetectors). Presently, the origins and mechanisms of this retardation remain highly contentious (e.g., large polarons, hot-phonon bottleneck, acoustical-optical phonon upconversion etc.). Here, we investigate the fluence-dependent hot-carrier dynamics in methylammonium lead triiodide using transient absorption spectroscopy, and correlate with theoretical modeling and first-principles calculations. At moderate carrier concentrations (around 10<sup>18</sup>?cm<sup>-3</sup>), carrier cooling is mediated by polar Fröhlich electron-phonon interactions through zone-center delayed longitudinal optical phonon emissions (i.e., with phonon lifetime ? <sub>LO</sub> around 0.6?±?0.1?ps) induced by the hot-phonon bottleneck. The hot-phonon effect arises from the suppression of the Klemens relaxation pathway essential for longitudinal optical phonon decay. At high carrier concentrations (around 10<sup>19</sup>?cm<sup>-3</sup>), Auger heating further reduces the cooling rates. Our study unravels the intricate interplay between the hot-phonon bottleneck and Auger heating effects on carrier cooling, which will resolve the existing controversy.
Project description:Hot-carrier solar cells can overcome the Schottky-Queisser limit by harvesting excess energy from hot carriers. Inorganic semiconductor nanocrystals are considered prime candidates. However, hot-carrier harvesting is compromised by competitive relaxation pathways (for example, intraband Auger process and defects) that overwhelm their phonon bottlenecks. Here we show colloidal halide perovskite nanocrystals transcend these limitations and exhibit around two orders slower hot-carrier cooling times and around four times larger hot-carrier temperatures than their bulk-film counterparts. Under low pump excitation, hot-carrier cooling mediated by a phonon bottleneck is surprisingly slower in smaller nanocrystals (contrasting with conventional nanocrystals). At high pump fluence, Auger heating dominates hot-carrier cooling, which is slower in larger nanocrystals (hitherto unobserved in conventional nanocrystals). Importantly, we demonstrate efficient room temperature hot-electrons extraction (up to ?83%) by an energy-selective electron acceptor layer within 1?ps from surface-treated perovskite NCs thin films. These insights enable fresh approaches for extremely thin absorber and concentrator-type hot-carrier solar cells.
Project description:This paper describes measurements of the dynamics of hot electron cooling in photoexcited gold nanoparticles (Au NPs) with diameters of ?3.5 nm, and passivated with either a hexadecylamine or hexadecanethiolate adlayer, using ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy. Fits of these dynamics with temperature-dependent Mie theory reveal that both the electronic heat capacity and the electron-phonon coupling constant are larger for the thiolated NPs than for the aminated NPs, by 40% and 30%, respectively. Density functional theory calculations on ligand-functionalized Au slabs show that the increase in these quantities is due to an increased electronic density of states near the Fermi level upon ligand exchange from amines to thiolates. The lifetime of hot electrons, which have thermalized from the initial plasmon excitation, increases with increasing electronic heat capacity, but decreases with increasing electron-phonon coupling, so the effects of changing surface chemistry on these two quantities partially cancel to yield a hot electron lifetime of thiolated NPs that is only 20% longer than that of aminated NPs. This analysis also reveals that incorporation of a temperature-dependent electron-phonon coupling constant is necessary to adequately fit the dynamics of electron cooling.
Project description:Carrier multiplication (CM) is the process in which multiple electron-hole pairs are created upon absorption of a single photon in a semiconductor. CM by an initially hot charge carrier occurs in competition with cooling by phonon emission, with the respective rates determining the CM efficiency. Up until now, CM rates have only been calculated theoretically. We show for the first time how to extract a distinct CM rate constant from experimental data of the relaxation time of hot charge carriers and the yield of CM. We illustrate this method for PbSe quantum dots. Additionally, we provide a simplified method using an estimated energy loss rate to estimate the CM rate constant just above the onset of CM, when detailed experimental data of the relaxation time is missing.
Project description:We demonstrate significant cooling of electrons in a nanostructure below 10 mK by demagnetisation of thin-film copper on a silicon chip. Our approach overcomes the typical bottleneck of weak electron-phonon scattering by coupling the electrons directly to a bath of refrigerated nuclei, rather than cooling via phonons in the host lattice. Consequently, weak electron-phonon scattering becomes an advant- age. It allows the electrons to be cooled for an experimentally useful period of time to temperatures colder than the dilution refrigerator platform, the incoming electrical connections, and the host lattice. There are efforts worldwide to reach sub-millikelvin electron temperatures in nanostructures to study coherent electronic phenomena and improve the operation of nanoelectronic devices. On-chip magnetic cooling is a promising approach to meet this challenge. The method can be used to reach low, local electron temperatures in other nanostructures, obviating the need to adapt traditional, large demagnetisation stages. We demonstrate the technique by applying it to a nanoelectronic primary thermometer that measures its internal electron temperature. Using an optimised demagnetisation process, we demonstrate cooling of the on-chip electrons from 9 mK to below 5 mK for over 1000 seconds.