Ligand removal and photo-activation of CsPbBr3 quantum dots for enhanced optoelectronic devices
Perovskite quantum dots have recently emerged as a promising light source for optoelectronic applications. However, integrating them into devices while preserving their outstanding optical properties remains challenging. Due to their ionic nature, perovskite quantum dots are extremely sensitive and degrade on applying the simplest processes. To maintain their colloidal stability, they are surrounded by organic ligands; these prevent efficient charge carrier injection in devices and have to be removed. Here we report on a simple method, where a moderate thermal process followed by exposure to UV in air can efficiently remove ligands and increase the photo-luminescence of the room temperature synthesized perovskite quantum dot thin films. Annealing is accompanied by a red shift of the emission wavelength, usually attributed to the coalescence and irreversible degradation of the quantum dots. We show that it is actually related to the relaxation of the quantum dots upon the ligand removal, without the creation of non-radiative recombining defects. The quantum dot surface, as devoid of ligands, is subsequently photo-oxidized and smoothened upon exposure to UV in air, which drastically enhances their photo-luminescence. This adequate combination of treatments improves by more than an order of magnitude the performances of perovskite quantum dot light emitting diodes.