Size-Dependent Optoelectronic Properties and Controlled Doping of Semiconductor Quantum Dots
Given a rapidly developing world, the need exists for inexpensive renewable energy alternatives to help avoid drastic climate change. Photovoltaics have the potential to fill the energy needs of the future, but significant cost decreases are necessary for widespread adoption. Semiconductor nanocrystals, also known as quantum dots, are a nascent technology with long term potential to enable inexpensive and high efficiency photovoltaics. When de- posited as a film, quantum dots form unique nanocomposites whose electronic and optical properties can be broadly tuned through manipulation of their individual constituents.
The contents of this thesis explore methods to understand and optimize the optoelectronic properties of PbSe quantum dot films for use in photovoltaic applications. Systematic optimization of photovoltaic performance is demonstrated as a function of nanocrystal size, establishing the potential for utilizing extreme quantum confinement to improve device energetics and alignment. Detailed investigations of the mechanisms of electrical transport are performed, revealing that electronic coupling in quantum dot films is significantly less than often assumed based on optical shifts. A method is proposed to employ extended regions of built-in electrical field, through controlled doping, to sidestep issues of poor transport. To this end, treatments with chemical redox agents are found to effect profound and reversible doping within nanocrystal films, sufficient to enable their use as chemical sensors, but lack- ing the precision required for optoelectronic applications. Finally, a novel doping method employing "redox buffers" is presented to enact precise, stable, and reversible charge-transfer doping in porous semiconductor films. An example of oxidatively doping PbSe quantum dot thin films is presented, and the future potential for redox buffers in photovoltaic applications is examined.