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Issue 3, 2012
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Passivating ligand and solvent contributions to the electronic properties of semiconductor nanocrystals

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Abstract

We examine in detail the impact of passivating ligands (i.e., amines, phosphines, phosphine oxides and pyridines) on the electronic and optical spectra of Cd33Se33 quantum dots (QDs) using density functional theory (DFT) and time-dependent DFT (TDDFT) quantum-chemical methodologies. Most ligand orbitals are found deep inside in the valence and conduction bands of the QD, with pyridine being an exception by introducing new states close to the conduction band edge. Importantly, all ligands contribute states which are highly delocalized over both the QD surface and ligands, forming hybridized orbitals rather than ligand-localized trap states. In contrast, the states close to the band gap are delocalized over the QD atoms only and define the lower energy absorption spectra. The random detachment of one of ligands from the QD surface results in the appearance of a highly localized unoccupied state inside the energy gap of the QD. Such changes in the electronic structure are correlated with the respective QD-ligand binding energy and steric ligand-ligand interactions. Polar solvent significantly reduces both effects leading to delocalization and stabilization of the surface states. Thus, trap and surface states are substantially eliminated by the solvent. Polar solvent also blue-shifts (e.g., 0.3–0.4 eV in acetonitrile) the calculated absorption spectra. This shift increases with an increase of the dielectric constant of the solvent. We also found that the approximate single-particle Kohn–Sham (KS) approach is adequate for calculating the absorption spectra of the ligated QDs. Besides a systematic blue-shift, the KS spectra are in very good agreement with their respective counterparts calculated with the more accurate TDDFT method.

Graphical abstract: Passivating ligand and solvent contributions to the electronic properties of semiconductor nanocrystals

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Publication details

The article was received on 26 Sep 2011, accepted on 17 Nov 2011 and first published on 15 Dec 2011


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C2NR11398H
Citation: Nanoscale, 2012,4, 904-914
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    Passivating ligand and solvent contributions to the electronic properties of semiconductor nanocrystals

    S. A. Fischer, A. M. Crotty, S. V. Kilina, S. A. Ivanov and S. Tretiak, Nanoscale, 2012, 4, 904
    DOI: 10.1039/C2NR11398H

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