Physics and Astronomy Faculty Publications

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The present study investigates the photocatalytic activity of ZnSe/CdS core/shell semiconductor nanocrystals. These nanoparticles exhibit a spatial separation of photoinduced charges between the core and the shell domains, which makes them potentially viable for photocatalytic applications. Unfortunately, one of the excited charges remains inside the core semiconductor and thus cannot efficiently react with the external environment. Here, we explore this issue by investigating the mechanisms of hole extraction from the ZnSe core to the surface of the CdS shell. In particular, the effect of shell thickness in ZnSe/CdS core/shell nanocrystals on the ability of core-localized charges to perform oxidative reactions was determined. By using a combination of time-resolved spectroscopy and electrochemical techniques, we demonstrate that the use of hole-scavenging surfactants facilitates an efficient transfer of core-localized holes to the surface even in the case of shells exceeding 7 nm in thickness. These measurements further demonstrate that photoinduced holes can be extracted from the core faster than they recombine with shell-localized electrons, indicating that most of the absorbed energy in ZnSe/CdS nanocrystals can be used to drive catalytic reactions.

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Publication Title

Journal Of Physical Chemistry C