Carrier-doping as a tool to probe the electronic structure and multi-carrier recombination dynamics in heterostructured colloidal nanocrystals†
Heterostructured colloidal nanocrystals, such as core/shells and dot-in-rods, enable new spectral and dynamic properties otherwise unachievable with single-component nanocrystals or quantum dots (QDs). For example, the electron and hole wavefunctions can be engineered such that they are either both confined in the same domain or (partially) separated over different domains in the heterostructures, which are the so-called type I or (quasi-) type II localization regimes, respectively. A critical factor dictating the carrier localization regime is the band alignment or electronic structure of the heterostructure, which, however, is difficult to measure and hence is often ambiguous. In this work, using CdSe@CdS dot-in-rods (DIRs) as a model system, we show that band edge carrier-doping is a simple-yet-powerful tool to probe the electronic structure of heterostructures. By doping an electron into the CdSe core and then observing whether the doped electron bleaches band edge absorption of only the core or those of both the core and shell, we can easily differentiate the type I and quasi-type II structures. A systematic study of DIRs with various dimensions shows that the extent of electron wavefunction delocalization can be tuned by the core sizes and rod diameters. Comparison with the electronic structure determined from transient absorption measurements also reveals the important role of electron–hole binding in affecting the delocalization of electron wavefunction. In addition to probing the electronic structure, the doped electron allows for studying multi-carrier recombination dynamics in these heterostructures which plays a vital role in their many optical and optoelectronic applications. Specifically, by comparing the band edge exciton recombination kinetics of the doped and neutral DIRs, we can extract the negative trion lifetime, which can be further used to derive the positive trion lifetime when combined with biexciton lifetime measurements. These lifetimes also depend sensitively on the core sizes and rod diameters of the DIRs.