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Directing Charge Transfer In Quantum Dot Assemblies.

B. Bloom, Ruibin Liu, P. Zhang, Supriya Ghosh, R. Naaman, D. Beratan, D. Waldeck
Published 2018 · Materials Science, Medicine

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The optical and electronic properties of semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) make them attractive candidates for applications in photovoltaics, spintronics, photocatalysis, and optoelectronics. Understanding how to control the flow of charge in QD assemblies is essential for realizing novel applications. This Account explores some unique characteristics of charge transport in QD dyads, triads, and their assemblies. The emerging features of these assemblies that provide new opportunities to manipulate charge flow at the nanoscale are (1) cascading energy landscapes and band offsets to inhibit charge recombination, (2) electrostatic fields that direct charge flow through QD-QD and QD-conjugated polymer junctions, and (3) QD chirality and chiral imprinting that promotes vectorial electron and spin selective transport. Charge flow kinetics is determined by a combination of familiar electron transfer parameters (reaction free energy, reorganization energy, and electronic coupling), donor and acceptor electronic densities of states, and internal electric fields. Electron transfer and electronic structure theory, combined with kinetic modeling, place the measured kinetics of QD electron transfer donor-acceptor assemblies into a unified conceptual context. The experimental transfer rates measured in these systems depend upon structure and the internal electric fields that are present in the assemblies. A negatively charged donor and positively charged acceptor, for example, facilitates (inhibits) electron (hole) transfer, while an electric field of opposite orientation (reversal of charges) inhibits (promotes) electron (hole) transfer. These and other emerging rules that govern charge flow in NP assemblies provide a strategy to design the directionality and yield of interfacial charge transport. Chirality at the nanoscale can induce spin selective charge transport, providing new ways to direct charge (and spin) flow in QD assemblies. Magnetoresistance and magnetic conductive probe atomic force microscopy experiments show spin selective electron transport for chirally imprinted QD assemblies. Photoinduced electron transfer from achiral donor-QDs to chiral acceptor-QDs depends on the electron spin and chiroptical properties of the acceptor-QDs. These assemblies show transport characteristics that correlate with features of the QDs' circular dichroism spectra, presenting intriguing challenges to theory, and indicating that spectroscopic signatures may assist in the design and diagnosis of functional molecular assemblies. Theoretical and experimental studies of charge transport in well-defined QD assemblies are establishing design principles for vectorial charge transport and are also refining questions surrounding the mechanism and control of these processes. These intensified efforts are forging links between fundamental discoveries regarding mechanism and practical applications for these novel assembled nanostructures.
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