Near-infrared photoluminescence enhancement in Ge/CdS and Ge/ZnS core/shell nanocrystals: Utilizing IV/II-VI semiconductor epitaxy

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Guo, Yijun
Rowland, Clare
Schaller, Richard
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Vela, Javier
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Ames National Laboratory

Ames National Laboratory is a government-owned, contractor-operated national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), operated by and located on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

For more than 70 years, the Ames National Laboratory has successfully partnered with Iowa State University, and is unique among the 17 DOE laboratories in that it is physically located on the campus of a major research university. Many of the scientists and administrators at the Laboratory also hold faculty positions at the University and the Laboratory has access to both undergraduate and graduate student talent.

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The Department of Chemistry seeks to provide students with a foundation in the fundamentals and application of chemical theories and processes of the lab. Thus prepared they me pursue careers as teachers, industry supervisors, or research chemists in a variety of domains (governmental, academic, etc).

The Department of Chemistry was founded in 1880.

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Ge nanocrystals have a large Bohr radius and a small, size-tunable band gap that may engender direct character via strain or doping. Colloidal Ge nanocrystals are particularly interesting in the development of near-infrared materials for applications in bioimaging, telecommunications and energy conversion. Epitaxial growth of a passivating shell is a common strategy employed in the synthesis of highly luminescent II-VI, III-V and IV-VI semiconductor quantum dots. Here, we use relatively unexplored IV/II-VI epitaxy as a way to enhance the photoluminescence and improve the optical stability of colloidal Ge nanocrystals. Selected on the basis of their relatively small lattice mismatch compared with crystalline Ge, we explore the growth of epitaxial CdS and ZnS shells using the successive ion layer adsorption and reaction method. Powder X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy techniques, including energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and selected area electron diffraction, clearly show the controllable growth of as many as 20 epitaxial monolayers of CdS atop Ge cores. In contrast, Ge etching and/or replacement by ZnS result in relatively small Ge/ZnS nanocrystals. The presence of an epitaxial II-VI shell greatly enhances the near-infrared photoluminescence and improves the photoluminescence stability of Ge. Ge/II-VI nanocrystals are reproducibly 1-3 orders of magnitude brighter than the brightest Ge cores. Ge/4.9CdS core/shells show the highest photoluminescence quantum yield and longest radiative recombination lifetime. Thiol ligand exchange easily results in near-infrared active, water-soluble Ge/II-VI nanocrystals. We expect this synthetic IV/II-VI epitaxial approach will lead to further studies into the optoelectronic behavior and practical applications of Si and Ge-based nanomaterials.


Reprinted (adapted) with permission from ACS Nano 8 (2014): 8334, doi:10.1021/nn502792m . Copyright 2014 American Chemical Society.

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