Poisson-Distributed Electron-Transfer Dynamics from Single Quantum Dots to C60 Molecules

Functional quantum dot (QD)-based nanostructures are often constructed through the self-assembly of QDs with binding partners (molecules or other nanoparticles), a process that leads to a statistical distribution of the number of binding partners. Using single QD fluorescence spectroscopy, we probe this distribution and its effect on the function (electron-transfer dynamics) in QD−C60 complexes. Ensemble-averaged transient absorption and fluorescence decay as well as single QD fluorescence decay measurements show that the QD exciton emission was quenched by electron transfer from the QD to C60 molecules and the electron-transfer rate increases with the C60-to-QD ratio. The electron-transfer rate of single QD−C60 complexes fluctuates with time and varies among different QDs. The standard deviation increases linearly with the average of electron-transfer rates of single QD−C60 complexes, and the distributions of both quantities obey Poisson statistics. The observed distributions of single QD−C60 complexes and ensemble-averaged fluorescence decay kinetics can be described by a model that assumes a Poisson distribution of the number of adsorbed C60 molecules per QD. Our findings suggest that, in self-assembled QD nanostructures, the statistical distribution of the number of adsorbed partners can dominate the distributions of the averages and standard deviation of their interfacial dynamical properties.