The tens-of-percent photoluminescence (PL) quantum yields routinely obtained for colloidally prepared CdSe semiconductor nanocrystals (NCs) decrease substantially with temperature elevation. While such PL efficiency loss has direct consequences for applications ranging from light-emitting diodes and lasers to photovoltaics under solar concentration, the origin of this loss is currently not established, hindering synthetic efforts to design materials with robust performance. Here, for the first time, we utilize transient absorption and ultrafast PL in addition to static PL and time-correlated single photon counting, to characterize CdSe core-only and CdSe/ZnS core/shell NCs up to temperatures as high as 800 K. For multiple particle sizes, loss of PL efficiency as a function of temperature elevation is more severe and less reversible for core-only NCs than for core/shell NCs. Ultrafast measurements performed at elevated sample temperatures indicate that thermally activated trapping of individual carriers dominates the nonradiative loss of excitons. Through a combination of spectroscopic techniques, we identify the primary carrier loss process as hole trapping in particular. These findings support the notion that extrinsic trapping effects out-compete intrinsic exciton deactivation at high temperature and point to realizable improvements in thermally robust optoelectronic performance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films