Synergistic ligand exchange and UV curing of PbS quantum dots for effective surface passivation†
Lead sulfide (PbS) quantum dots (QDs) are promising materials in solution-processed photovoltaic (PV) devices due to their tunable bandgap and low-cost processing. Replacing the long oleic acid ligands of the as-synthesized QDs with shorter ligands is a key step for making functional QD PVs with correctly tuned band energies and reduced non-radiative recombination centers. In this work, we study the effect of ultraviolet (UV) treatment of PbS QD layers on the QD surface states during ligand exchange. We demonstrate that this straightforward approach effectively reduces the surface trap states and passivates the surface of QDs. We find that UV treatment reduces the density of hydroxyl groups attached to the QD surface and improves the bonding of short ligands to the QD surface. Multiple analyses show the reduction of nonradiative recombination centers for the UV-treated sample. The power conversion efficiency (PCE) of our optimized PbS QD device reached 10.7% (vs. 9% for the control device) and was maintained above 10% after 230 h of constant illumination.