Photochemical Sciences Ph.D. Dissertations


Synthesis and Applications of Heterostructured Semiconductor Nanocrystals.

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Photochemical Sciences

First Advisor

Mikhail Zamkov, Dr.

Second Advisor

George Bullerjahn, Dr. (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Thomas Kinstle, Dr. (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Massimo Olivucci, Dr. (Committee Member)


Semiconductor nanocrystals (NCs) have been of great interest to researchers for several decades due to their unique optoelectronic properties. These nanoparticles are widely used for a variety of different applications. However, there are many unresolved issues that lower the efficiency and/or stability of devices which incorporate these NCs. Our research is dedicated to addressing these issues by identifying potential problems and resolving them, improving existing systems, generating new synthetic strategies, and/or building new devices. The general strategies for the synthesis of different nanocrystals were established in this work, one of which is the colloidal growth of gold domains onto CdS semiconductor nanocrystals. Control of shape and size was achieved simply by adjusting the temperature and the time of the reaction. Depending on the exact morphology of Au and CdS domains, fabricated nano-composites can undergo evaporation-induced self-assembly onto a substrate, which is very useful for building devices. CdS/Au heterostructures can assemble in two different ways: through end-to-end coupling of Au domains, resulting in the formation of one-dimensional chains; and via side-by-side packing of CdS nanorods, leading to the onset of two-dimensional superlattices. We investigated the nature of exciton-plasmon interactions in Au-tipped CdS nanorods using femtosecond transient absorption spectroscopy. The study demonstrated that the key optoelectronic properties of electrically coupled metal and semiconductor domains are significantly different from those observed in systems with weak inter-domain coupling. In particular, strongly-coupled nanocomposites promote mixing of electronic states at semiconductor-metal domain interfaces, which causes a significant suppression of both plasmon and exciton carrier excitations. Colloidal QDs are starting to replace organic molecules in many different applications, such as organic light emmiting diods (OLEDs), due to their light emmision tunability. We reported a general strategy for the assembly of all-inorganic light-emitting nanocrystal films with an emission quantum yield in the 30-52% range. Our methodology relies on solution-processing of CdSe nanocrystals into a crystalline matrix of a wide band gap semiconductor (CdS, ZnS). As a result, we replace original organic ligands on nanocrystal surfaces with an inorganic medium which efficiently preserves the quantum confinement of electrical charges in CdSe NCs. In addition to strong emission, fabricated films demonstrated excellent thermal and chemical stability, and a large refractive index, which avails their integration into emerging solid-state nanocrystal devices. The ability to control size and shape of NCs is essential as it automatically affects the optoelectronic properties of the crystals. Colloidal chemistry offers an assortment of synthetic tools for tuning the shape of NCs, but some nanoparticle morphologies require alternative processing strategies. We have shown that chemical etching of colloidal nanoparticles can facilitate the realization of desirable nanocrystal geometries. This methodology allows both CdSe and CdS composed semiconductor domains be exposed to the external environment, while maintaining a structural design that is highly desirable for catalytic applications. Hydrogen production tests confirmed the improved catalytic activity of CdSe/CdS dimers. We expect that the demonstrated application will become a common methodology in the synthesis of charge-separating nanocrystals, leading to advanced nanoparticle architectures for applications in the areas of photocatalysis, photovoltaics, and light detection.