Pairing quantum dots with fullerenes for nanoscale photovoltaics

May 11, 2011

Photoinduced electron transfer occurring in quantum dot-bridge-fullerene hererodimers and observed with single molecule microscopy (credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory)

A nanoscale two-particle system designed to convert light to electricity in a precisely controlled way has been demonstrated by scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

The two particles are light-absorbing, colloidal quantum dots linked to carbon-based fullerene nanoparticles.

“This is the first demonstration of a hybrid inorganic/organic, dimeric (two-particle) material that acts as an electron donor-bridge-acceptor system for converting light to electrical current,” said Brookhaven physical chemist Mircea Cotlet.

By varying the length of the linker molecules and the size of the quantum dots, the scientists can control the rate and magnitude of fluctuations of light-induced electron transfer at the level of the individual dimer.

The surface-based assembly of nanoscale pairings of particles shows promise for creating power-generating units for molecular electronics or as more efficient photovoltaic solar cells, the researchers said.

Ref: Zhihua Xu, Mircea Cotlet, Quantum Dot-Bridge-Fullerene Heterodimers with Controlled Photoinduced Electron Transfer, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2011; DOI: 10.1002/anie.201007270