Reversible Surface Electronic Traps in PbS Quantum Dot Solids Induced by an Order–Disorder Phase Transition in Capping Molecules

2012-05-09T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Cory A. Nelson X.-Y. Zhu
The electronic properties of semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) are critically dependent on the nature of the ligand molecules on their surfaces. Here we show the reversible formation of surface electronic trap states in the model system of solid thin films of PbS QDs capped with thiol molecules. As the temperature was increased from cryogenic to room temperature, we discovered a phase transition in the fluorescence spectra from excitonic emission to trap emission. The critical temperature (<i>T</i><sub>c</sub>) of the phase transition scales with molecular length and in each case is close to the bulk melting temperature of the capping molecules. We conclude that an order–disorder transition in the molecular monolayer above <i>T</i><sub>c</sub> introduces surface mobility and the formation of a disordered atomic lead layer at the QD/capping molecule interface, leading to electronic trap formation.