Scholarly article on topic 'Highly Luminescent Colloidal CdS Quantum Dots with Efficient Near-Infrared Electroluminescence in Light-Emitting Diodes'

Highly Luminescent Colloidal CdS Quantum Dots with Efficient Near-Infrared Electroluminescence in Light-Emitting Diodes Academic research paper on "Nano-technology"

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Academic research paper on topic "Highly Luminescent Colloidal CdS Quantum Dots with Efficient Near-Infrared Electroluminescence in Light-Emitting Diodes"





Highly Luminescent Colloidal CdS Quantum Dots with Efficient Near-Infrared Electroluminescence in Light-Emitting Diodes

Ashu Bansal, Francesco Antolini, Shuyu Zhang, Lenuta Stroea, Luca Ortolani, Massimiliano Lanzi, Emanuele Serra, Sybille Allard, Ullrich Scherf, and Ifor D. W. Samuel

J. Phys. Chem. C, Just Accepted Manuscript • DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.5b09109 • Publication Date (Web): 14 Dec 2015

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3 Highly Luminescent Colloidal CdS Quantum Dots with Efficient Near-Infrared

4 Electroluminescence in Light-Emitting Diodes

7 A. K. Bansal^, F. Antolini2#, S. Zhang1, L. Stroea2, L. Ortolani3, M. Lanzi4, E. Serra5, S.

8 Allard6, U. Scherf6 and I. D. W. Samuel1*

10 1Organic Semiconductor Centre, SUPA, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of St

11 Andrews, St Andrews, KY16 9SS, UK

12 E-mail:

14 ENEA, Fusion and Nuclear Security Dept., Photonics Micro and Nanostructures Laboratory

15 Via E. Fermi 45, 00044 Frascati (Rome), Italy

-16 3CNR IMM Bologna Section, Via Gobetti 101, Bologna (BO), Italy

17 4Department of Industrial Chemistry, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

18 5ENEA-UTTMAT, C.R. Casaccia, via Anguillarese 301, 00123 Roma, Italy

19 6Institut für Polymertechnologie Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Gauss-Strasse 20, 42097

20 Wuppertal, Germany

21 # Author's equal contribution

25 Abstract: Quantum dots are of growing interest as emissive materials in light-emitting

27 devices. Here first we report the formation of highly luminescent organic capped colloidal

29 cadmium sulfide (CdS) nanoparticles having highest photoluminescence quantum yield of

32 69% in solutions and 34% in neat thin films in the near infrared range. Secondly, we also

34 show efficient electroluminescence in the near infrared from solution processed hybrid light

36 emitting diodes (LEDs) based on such colloidal CdS quantum dots embedded in an organic

38 semiconductor matrix forming a nanocomposite active layer. We also discuss the device

43 layer thickness and concentration of QDs, the device exhibits an external electroluminescence

45 quantum efficiency of 0.62% at a peak emission wavelength of 760 nm, providing a route to

47 solution processable flexible light sources for biosensors and medicine.

49 Keywords: PLQY, hybrid OLED, TOPO, thin films

52 1. Introduction

54 Colloidal quantum dots (QDs) are an attractive choice for next generation

56 optoelectronic devices due to their appealing physical properties of size-tunable band gaps,

structure and role of the doped active layer in efficiency improvement. With optimized active

good photostability, photoluminescence efficiency and compatibility with solution-processing methods1-3. Among reported applications, QDs have been actively investigated for light-emitting diodes (LEDs)4, photodetectors5, solar cells6 and bio-labeling7 as well as down-converters in backlit displays8. Recently visible quantum dot based OLEDs using CdSe/CdS core-shell nanocrystals were reported with record external quantum efficiency (EQE) of 18% and peak emission at 620 nm9. In order to explore their potential for biomedical and sensing applications, efforts have been made to extend the optical response of colloidal quantum dots from the visible to the near infrared (NIR) using nanocrystals based on, e.g. CdSe, CdTe and PbS10-11. However, the efficiency of solution processed OLEDs in NIR emission is very low12 and there is a large gap in reported performance between the impressive visible results and NIR devices. Organic molecule/nanocrystal hybrid devices were reported recently having core-shell nanocrystals in the NIR range with EQE up to 0.4% with peak emission at 884 nm and maximum 2% with peak emission at 1054 nm13. Colloidal quantum dots capped by organic ligands are simple to make and widely studied, but also have low efficiency in the infra-red. For example PbS capped with oleic acid, the electroluminescence peaks at 1250 nm, and has an efficiency of just 1.1%14 EQEs of these devices are limited by the photoluminescence quantum yield (PLQY) of QDs in a thin film which is less than 10%, so if QDs with higher PLQY can be developed, EQEs should proportionately increase. Still to our knowledge there is no systematic report available on the development of efficient colloidal QDs based OLED emitting in the wavelength range 700-900 nm, which is known as the therapeutic window15 for biological applications.

In this article we report an advance in PLQY and external EQE for NIR emission based on ligand-capped CdS quantum dots. We explore ligand-capped materials for two reasons. First, they are simple to prepare, and second, we found surprisingly high emission in the NIR region of the spectrum. In particular we have exploited the formation of efficient

fabrication of a hybrid LED. In this article the formation of the colloidal CdS QDs was

3 surface trap emission in tri-n-octylphosphine oxide (TOPO) capped CdS QDs with PLQY up

5 to 69% in solutions and surprisingly show that it can lead to efficient emission for the

10 studied by absorption and photoluminescence measurements and additional understanding of

12 the QD growth and quality was achieved by high-resolution transmission electron

14 microscopy (TEM) techniques. The effect of surface ligands on QDs was studied to

17 understand their emissive properties. Furthermore we fabricated hybrid LEDs and compared

19 two device architectures: one contains a monolayer of QDs, the other places the QDs in an

21 organic host matrix. The resulting electroluminescence was due either to direct carrier

23 injection into QDs followed by exciton formation and recombination on the QD, or to exciton

25 formation in organic films followed energy transfer to the QDs 7 Our results show that for

30 than for those using a monolayer of QDs.

33 2. Materials and methods

35 2.1 Synthesis of Cadmium bis-octanthiol precursor: An amount of 1.83 gr of CdCl2 (10

37 mmol) has been dissolved in 100 ml of water/EtOH 1:1 (v:v), then a volume of NH4OH 35 %

39 is added until a white suspension disappears (approximately 10-11 ml of ammonium

ligand-capped QDs higher efficiency is obtained for devices using an organic host matrix

hydroxide solution) and the solution becomes clear again. In the CdCl2 solution a volume of

water /EtOH 1:1 (v:v) again and centrifuged at 4000 rpm for 10 minutes. This washing

44 3.47 ml of octanthiol (20 mmol) is added drop by drop. A white precipitate is immediately

46 formed and the solution is then leaved to stir for two hour at room temperature. The

48 precipitate is centrifuged at 4000 rpm for 10 minutes then the powder is re-suspended in

53 procedure is repeated twice. The white powder is finally dried O.N. in air (yield 85 %).

55 EtOH/H2O

56 CdCl2 + 2 CH3(CH2)7SH -► Cd[S(CH2)7CH3]2 + 2H+ + 2 Cl-

Scheme 1

Elem. analysis: Calculated for CwH34CdS2: Cd, 27.9%; C, 47.7%; H, 8.5%; S, 15.9%. Found: Cd, 24.92%; C, 47.95%; H, 8.76%; S, 15.98%.

FTIR (KBr, cm'1): 2955 (antisymmetric stretching -CH3); 2921 (antisymmetric str. -CH2-); 2872 (symmetric str. -CH3); 2849 (symmetric str. -CH2-); 1466 (-CH2- deformation); 1378 (-CH3 deformation); 722 (-CH2- rocking); 647 (C-H deformation).

The NMR analysis was carried out in the solid state because the compound is insoluble 13C (1H) CPMAS solid state spectrum MAS speed 25 KHz, T = ambient.

The expected resonances are 8 but the signals seem to be the double. This phenomenon could be ascribed to the presence of two different phases (crystalline and amorphous) on the powder. Starting from the methyl group (C8) to the methylene -CH2- bound to the S atom the chemical shifts are: 15.07 ppm (C8 -CH3), 24.52 ppm (C7 -CH2-), 28.25 ppm (C6 -CH2-), 30.51 ppm (C5 -CH2-), 32.75 ppm (C4 -CH2-), 34.92 ppm (C3 -CH2-), 39.07 ppm (C2 -CH2-), 41.62 ppm (C1 -CH2-)

2.2 Time course of CdS formation: A three necks flask of 50 ml has been loaded with 24 g of TOPO. The powder has been heated at 120° under vacuum (50 mbar) and stirring for 30 minutes, then the solvent has been brought at 220° C under nitrogen for additional 30 minutes. A solution of trioctylphosphine (TOP)/cadmium bis-octanthiol has been prepared re-suspending 480 mg of Cd-bis-octanthiol in 15.4 ml of TOP (the mole ratio between TOP/precursor is set at 29) under nitrogen and stirring for one hour. The TOP/precursor solution is injected into the hot TOPO. After the injection the temperature drops down to 180° C, then the heater is switched to max temperature and within 5-10 min the temperature is stabilised to 220°C. Starting from this moment a volume of 5 ml of the reaction mix has been taken time by time to study the time course of the CdS QDs formation. A volume of 5

precipitate and purify the QDs. The solution is then centrifuged at 14.000 rpm for 10 minutes.

amount of 20.5 mg of Cd-bis-octanthiol (0.05 mmol) was loaded in a pyrex tube. A volume

3 ml has been kept at 30, 60, 75, 90, 120, 150, 180 and 240 minutes and the reaction was

5 stopped cooling the solution at room temperature.

7 The solution is then poured in 45 ml of acetone and kept at -20°C for 20 minutes to

10 help the precipitation of the QDs. The QDs were recovered by centrifuging the suspension at

12 4000 rpm for 20 minutes. The pellet is dissolved in 200 ^l of chloroform and distributed in

14 two eppendorfs. A volume of 1.2 ml of acetone has been added to each eppendorf to further

19 The dissolution/precipitation step has been repeated twice. Finally the pellet is re-dissolved in

21 0.5 ml of chloroform for the final optical and structural characterisation.

23 2.3 Effect of TOP, DPP and OA on CdS QDs optical properties: In a typical reaction an

28 of 3 ml of octadecene (ODE) (previously degassed under vacuum, 50 mbar, at 120° for 30

30 min, then under N2 for 30 min) or TOPO (previously degassed under vacuum, 50 mbar, at

32 120° for 30 min, then under N2 for 30 min) is added to the test tube. To this solution is

34 rapidly injected an amount of 1.5 mmol or 0.5 mmol, or 0.15 mmol or 0.05 mmol of TOP,

37 diphenylphosphine (DPP) or oleic acid (OA) and the reaction was carried out under N2. In the

39 case of ODE (or TOPO) combined both with OA and DPP the content of OA has been kept

41 constant at 0.05 mmol (ratio OA precursor is 1) while the DPP is varied from 0.05 mmol to

43 1.5 mmol (ratio DPP/precursor 1, 3, 10, 30). The test tube was immediately put in a stirrer set

48 within the pyrex tube drops to 210 °C, then reach once again the selected value.

50 The reaction was stopped by cooling the tube to room temperature using water, and

52 then the mixture was poured into 40 ml of acetone. The QDs grown in TOPO were purified

54 as reported above. The QDs grown in ODE were purified following the same protocol with

57 minor modifications. The reaction mix was stopped in cold water and the solution poured into

at the desired temperature (220 °C) for 60 min. During the first 5 minutes the temperature

40 ml of acetone as described above. Then a volume of 2-5 ml of acetonitrile was added as soon as the solution became cloudy. The solution was then centrifuged at 4000 rpm for 20 minutes. The precipitate was re-dissolved with 0.2-0.4 ml of chloroform and was transferred to Eppendorfs. For a chloroform volume of 0.2 ml, 1.2 ml of acetone/acetonitrile 1:1 (v/v) was added and the solution was then centrifuged at 14.000 rpm for 10 minutes. The precipitate was washed once again with 1.2 ml of acetone/acetonitrile 1:1 (v/v) and then the precipitate was re-suspended in 0.5 ml of cloroform.

2.4 Optical characterisation of the samples: The solutions were analysed both by UV-Vis and PL spectroscopy. The UV-Vis spectra were recorded by dissolving a volume (5-50 ^l) in 3 ml of chloroform in such a way that the absorbance at 350 nm was about 0.1. The absorption cross section (gqds cm2) has been calculated from the absorbance spectrum using the following formula:16

_ 2.303(OD)

OQDs - - j -QDsj

where OD is the optical density taken from the absorption spectrum of the QDs in solution, l is the cuvette path (1 cm) and Nqds is the number of QDs per cm3. The value of N is determined from the concentration (moles/liter) calculated as reported by Yu et al.17:

_ Cone * 6.02 * 1023

—QDs - 103

23 3 3 3

where 6.02*10 is the Avogadro number and 10 is a conversion factor from dm to cm. The same solution was then used to record the PL spectra and to determine the PLQY with excitation at 360 nm, which was measured using a Hamamatsu integrating sphere18 measurement system. The PL spectra were recorded in the region between 400 - 800 nm, with an emission bandwidth of 1.6 nm and exciting the sample at 350 nm with an excitation

2.5 CdS QDs size determination and size distribution: The FWHM has been determined

Gaussian curve obtaining the FWHM of the particle size. The particle size distribution, a, is

3 bandwidth of 1.8 nm, dwell time 0.6 sec and step 1 nm (FSP920 Edinburgh Instruments). The

5 PL spectrum was then corrected for the system response.

10 by using the Origin program converting the x axis of the absorption spectrum (wavelength vs

12 Abs) in a new graph where the wavelength has been changed in QDs size using the Yu et al17

14 equation (particle size vs Abs). Then the absorption peak of the CdS has been fitted with the

19 calculated from the FWHM values by using the following relationship valid for the Gaussian

21 distribution:


29 equation y = a - b*c . In the case of size the fitting parameters are: a = 3.147±0.037, b =

31 2.306±0.106 and c = 0.983±0.001 with a R2 of 0.993. In the case of FWHM the fitting

33 parameters are: a = 1.210±0.043, b = 0.263±0.123 and c = 0.983±0.014 with a R2 of 0.519.

38 standard deviations shown in figures 3 and 4) has been carried out on three different samples

40 for each ligand/precursor ratio.

42 2.6 Thin film and devices fabrication: For optical spectroscopy, thin films of QDs were

44 spin-coated on fused silica substrates. The absorption spectra were measured using a Varian

The curve fitting of the particle size and FWHM has been obtained with the asymptotic

The statistical treatment of the PLQY and photoluminescence max (average values and

UV spectrophotometer and photoluminescence spectra were measured with a FLS980

49 Edinburgh Instruments fluorimeter. For devices, ITO-coated soda lime glass substrates were

51 cleaned by ultrasound in acetone and 2-propanol, followed by an oxygen plasma treatment. A

53 40 nm thick poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene): poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS) was

58 of 35 nm-thick poly(N-vinylcarbazole) (PVK) was spin-coated on the PEDOT:PSS layer and

spin-coated on the ITO and baked on a hot plate at 120 °C for 10 min. A hole-transport layer

baked at 80 °C for 2 hours in a nitrogen glove box. An emissive layer of either QDs alone or QDs blended with (4, 4'-N, N'-dicarbazole) biphenyl (CBP) and 4-diphenylphosphoryl dibenzofuran (o-DBFPPO) were spin-coated on top of the PVK layer. An electron-transport layer of 60 nm-thick bis-4,6-(3,5-di-3-pyridylphenyl)-2-methylpyrimidine (B3PyMPM) was deposited through a shadow mask. A cathode of Ca/Al (20 nm/100 nm) was then deposited on the B3PyMPM layer in the same vacuum system. After the evaporation, the devices were encapsulated with optical curing adhesive (Norland NOA68) and glass coverslips in the glove box. The device has an active area of 2x1.5 mm2. The current-voltage-light output characteristics were measured using a Keithley source measure unit with a calibrated silicon photodiode. The EL spectra were measured using a charge coupled device spectrograph.

3. Results and Discussions

3.1 Photophysical and structural characterisation of quantum dots:

The synthesis of the single source precursor Cd bis-octanethiol (Cd[S(CH2)7CH3]2) has been carried out using the protocol proposed by Rees et al. 19 with minor modifications as shown in scheme 1 in the experimental section. A schematic representation of colloidal TOPO capped CdS QDs after the thermolysis of the cadmium bis-octanethiolate precursor performed in the presence of a coordinating solvent TOPO is shown in figure 1. The growth of the QDs was carried out in a reaction flask at elevated temperature at 220-270 °C and the time course growth dynamics of the QDs were monitored at different reaction times. Figure 1 shows absorbance and photoluminescence of such TOPO capped QDs at various reaction times. The absorption spectra show a well-defined shift in the band edge absorption at various reaction temperatures and all QDs absorb below 420 nm. For example as shown in figure1a the band edge absorbance of the QDs move from 340 nm at 30 minutes reaction time to 380 nm after a reaction time of 240 minutes at a temperature of 220 °C. These particular

shown in figure 1b. The PL maxima shift toward red as a function of baking time within the

3 QDs did not show any band edge emission when excited in solutions at 350 nm, but emitted

5 at longer wavelength, a broad emission with peak up to 790 nm in the near infrared (NIR) as

10 interval 640 - 790 nm shows the dependence of the PL properties on the QDs size.

12 Surprisingly these CdS QDs are highly emissive and values of PLQY obtained are

14 shown in figure 1. The time course of the PLQY shows a rapid increase a maximum to 68.9%

_J7 during the first 90 minutes then decreases to 37% upon further heating. The high PLQY is

19 surprising considering that QDs are obtained with the use of an organic ligands system

21 TOP/TOPO. In literature CdS QDs have been reported to emit at these longer wavelengths if

23 the surface of the nanocrystals is not passivated completely but non-radiative recombination

25 due to the associated defect states leads to very weak emission with less than 1% PLQY20.

28 High PLQY has been reported earlier in CdTe QDs using thiol ligands where authors

30 suggest that the PLQY is function of the steric hindrance of the ligand.

32 Figure 2a shows the size distribution of the CdS QDs determined by optical

34 spectroscopy as a function of the annealing time together with the full width at half maximum

39 al17. In the initial period (30 - 90 minutes), there is a rapid enhancement of the size of CdS

41 QDs followed by a slower growth during 120-240 min as soon as the precursor decomposed.

43 This trend correlates with the classical La Mer model of nucleation and growth followed by

45 the Ostwald ripening where the larger particles are formed at the expense of the smaller

47 22 23

48 ones . The FWHM, which is a direct indicator of the particle size distribution, increases

50 with the time of annealing from 1.04 ± 0.02 to 1.18 ± 0.04. This size defocussing suggests the

52 role of the Ostwald ripening mechanism during the growth of particles23. Figure 2b shows the

54 transmission electron microscopy (TEM) image of CdS QDs, showing the maximum PLQY,

56 deposited on the amorphous carbon film of a standard TEM carbon grid. The smaller

(FWHM). The size of the CdS QDs was determined using the equation proposed by Yu et

nanoparticles, with diameter below 3 nm are homogeneously distributed over the TEM grid, appearing with dark contrast over the amorphous film, and the bigger clusters clearly show crystal structure. In the inset of figure 2b, displaying a magnified view of the area highlighted by the white rectangle, lattice fringes corresponding to CdS (100) crystal planes are highlighted. TEM analysis of the dimension of the CdS clusters (histogram shown in figure 2c) reveals that the CdS QDs mean size is 2.2 nm and the particle size distribution is 0.4 nm. The mean size and the particle size distribution obtained from optical analysis for the same sample (220 °C, 60 min. of annealing) is respectively 2.3 nm and 0.5 nm indicating the well agreement between the structural and optical analysis.

3.2 Effect of ligands on photophysical properties of quantum dots:

In order to understand the formation of such highly emissive QDs, we carried out a detailed photophysical study of various ligands on the QDs. It is well known that the optical properties of the QDs and their PL quantum yield are strictly correlated with surface ligands. The role of the ligands is to modulate the surface defects of QDs. The dangling bonds on the exposed surfaces of the QDs can be passivated by the ligands so that deep trap emission states can be consequently modulated24. In metal chalcogenide QDs, chalcogen filled states and metal derived empty states can lead to mid gap states which work as an ideal passivation system for both of them25. The effect of the ligands on photophysical properties and in particular on PLQY is reported for several type of II-VI QDs and in particular for CdTe21' 2627 and CdSe28-30.

In the system reported here the CdS QDs were synthesised from a single source precursor (SSP) with a solvo-thermal synthesis process in the presence of TOP and TOPO which acts as ligands and as well as a good solvent for precursor. As the photophysical properties of the QDs depend upon the growth conditions and surface ligands, the combined effect of photoluminescence emission at longer wavelength coupled with a high PLQY has

coordinating solvent using TOP, diphenylphosphine (DPP) and oleic acid (OA) in the

3 been investigated by changing the solvent and the ligand type in the reaction synthesis. The

5 synthesis of the CdS was carried out both on TOPO, a coordinating solvent and ODE, a non-

10 reaction media and changing their ratio with respect to the CdS single source precursor.

12 Figure 3 shows the effect of TOP, DPP and OA in ODE, both in the PLQY and

14 wavelength shift of the photoluminescence maxima (PL max) of the CdS QDs. As shown in

_J7 figure 3a, a relatively high PLQY (34.7 ± 3.1 %) is observed only when OA and DPP are

19 used together with ODE. Neither oleic acid alone nor TOP or DPP are enough to stimulate

21 the PLQY of ODE which decreases further as the amount of OA is increased. On the other

23 side a red shift of the PL max is obtained only when the OA is present in the reaction mixture

25 either alone or in combination with DPP (between 600 nm and 800 nm). In the case of

30 in the case of ODE/OA/DPP reaction the wavelength of PL maximum does not change

32 because the concentration of OA is remained constant (the OA/precursor ratio is equal to 1

34 and the DPP concentration is enhanced from 0.05 mmol to 1.5 mmol). These interesting

39 high PLQY is obtained only when OA and DPP are combined together in the reaction mix.

41 The effect of the ligands on the PLQY and PL max of the CdS QDs grown in TOPO

43 are shown in figure 4. In this system the PLQY (figure 4a) is low in neat TOPO and in a

45 mixture of TOPO/OA. On the contrary when TOPO is coupled with a high amount of TOP

ODE/OA reaction mixture, this red shift is dependent on the amount of OA (figure 3b) while

results show that the presence of OA in ODE solvent red shift the PL max while a relatively

(ratio more than 3) or DPP or OA/DPP the quantum yield abruptly increases to 69%. The

50 dependence of the PLQY on TOP concentration is probably due to the presence of the more

52 reactive dioctylphosphine (DOP) that is present as an impurity in TOP31. Indeed it has been

54 recently highlighted that DOP is the key reagent affecting the optimal growth of the QDs32.

This effect has not been observed for DPP as the PLQY is practically high and constant for

most of the interval as shown in figure 4a, because it is a more reactive reagent33 than TOP, so there is no requirement to add it in large excess. The effect of these ligands on the PL max red shift is shown in figure 4b. In this case all the samples show a PL max shifted toward the region between 650 nm and 725 nm except for neat TOPO and TOPO/TOP with low concentration of TOP (PL max 570 nm and 553 nm respectively). These results confirm the role of OA concentration shifting the PL max toward red when coupled with TOPO.

All these lines of evidences can be understood by considering the role of OA and TOPO as cadmium ligands25' 34 and TOP/DPP as sulphur ligands24' 33, 35. Tables 1a and 1b resume clearly the role of the ligands for enhanced PLQY and red shift of PL max. From table 1a it is clear that OA is the key reagent for the red shift of PL max, because the red shift is observed only when the OA is present. However this ligand alone is not enough to enhance the PLQY. On the other side the presence of TOP or DPP alone doesn't stimulate the PLQY or red shift of PL max. Only when both OA and DPP are present the PLQY is enhanced and the PL is red shifted. At molecular level this means that the coordination of cadmium on the QDs surface is due to OA which shifts the PL emission but the defects on the sulphur dangling bonds cause the loss of energy. High PLQY is achieved only when OA is coupled with DPP, a sulphur ligand, which reduced many of the defects both on the Cd and S atoms.

The table 1b shows the same scheme for TOPO solvent. As expected the neat TOPO is not able to promote a high PLQY, because the sulphur defects are not reduced. Interestingly neat TOPO does not display a red shift of the PL because it is a cadmium ligand. The red shift of PL is observed only in the presence of OA. This indicates that OA is a stronger ligand for cadmium than for TOPO and only its presence can stimulate this red shift. Obviously the PLQY in both cases is low because the sulphur atoms on the surface are unbounded. As soon as the TOPO/OA (or TOPO) is treated together with DPP (or TOP) the high PLQY is restored. Interestingly OA seems not crucial when TOPO is present in

10 11 12

20 21 22

combination with TOP or DPP to obtain high PLQY coupled with red shift of PL. This could be due to the presence of impurities in TOPO that interact with DPP, and stimulate the shell formation over the growing QDs. Indeed it has been already shown that TOPO impurities such as di-n-octylphospine oxide (DOPO) and di-n-octylphospinic acid (DOPA) 31-32 can modulate the growing QDs. These results suggest that the variability of optical properties of CdS QDs upon the TOPO impurities is per se a critical point in QDs growth. However the addition of OA to the reaction mix is beneficial to obtain QDs with standardised optical properties.

The ODE, ODE/DPP, TOPO and TOPO/DPP were also analysed with TEM in order to verify if the composition and crystalline structure of the samples is also responsible for the different optical properties of the QDs. Indeed it is reported that cubic (Zinc blend) or hexagonal (Wurzite) phase have different PL emission properties29. Figure 5 summarises TEM characterization, figure 5a-c refers to TOPO samples, figure 5d-i to the TOPO/DPP, figure 5g-i to the ODE samples and figure 5j-l to the ODE/DPP. The analysis combining imaging, electron diffraction and elemental analysis with x-ray spectroscopy (EDS) reveals that the QDs present in all cases have the cubic structure indicating that the crystalline structure is not responsible for the optical properties.

The behaviour of QDs in solid state samples was also studied where thin films of QDs were prepared by spin-coating the solutions at 1200 rpm on quartz substrates. The photoluminescence quantum yield of neat films of our QDs was measured using an integrating sphere. The nanocrystals show PL quantum yield up to 34% which to our knowledge is the highest value from colloidal QDs passivated by organic molecules in the NIR range. Such high PLQY values stimulate us to fabricate the devices using these QDs and the results are discussed in next section.

3.3 Devices Characterisation:

The device architecture with corresponding energy levels of various layers is shown in figure 6, in which the electrode work functions and the HOMO/LUMO energies for PEDOT, PVK, CdS QDs36, o-DBFPPO and B3PyMPM are taken from the literature37-38. Three different sets of devices were fabricated. In set 1, the device structure contained a monolayer of QDs - ITO/PEDOT:PSS (40 nm)/PVK (35 nm)/QD (10 nm)/B3PyMPM (60 nm)/Ca (20nm)/Al (100nm). In set 2, instead of QDs alone, a blend of QDs with CBP in a volume ratio of (0.05:0.95) was used. In set 3, a blend of QDs with o-DBFPPO in a volume ratio of (0.05:0.95) was used, with the other layers the same as for sets 1 and 2. In all three types of devices, the EL spectrum is very similar to the PL spectrum as shown in figure 6. It shows only emission from the QDs with a broad peak at 760 nm. It is important to note that no host emission was visible from either of the blends implying either complete energy transfer from host to the QDs or direct excitation formation on the QDs.

Figure 7a shows the external quantum efficiency of all three sets of devices. For set 1 (monolayer of QDs), the EQE is less than 0.2% in comparison to set 2 (QD:CBP blend) where EQE reaches to 0.62±0.05%. In device set 3, EQE is low and less than 0.2±0.02%. Figure 7b shows the current-voltage-light output characteristics for all three set of devices. The turn on voltage for device set 1 is above 25 V, which reduces drastically in device set 2 to 15 V and in device set 3 even reduces further to just less than 10 V. The low EQE and very high turn on voltage in the case of device set 1 suggest insufficient charge transport when the excitons are directly formed in a monolayer of QDs. The energy level diagram shown in figure 6 shows that the HOMO level of PVK is at 5.5 eV, so there is a large energy step for hole injection from this layer into the QDs which have a HOMO energy level at 6.3 eV. In contrast, there is not a barrier to electron injection. This large difference in the injection barriers for electrons and holes into the QDs results in a carrier imbalance that leads to the

materials improves the charge injection as this process reduces the energy level step and can

o-DBFPPO devices are higher electron mobility and lower barrier to electron injection as its

3 low efficiency of the devices made from the neat film. The carrier imbalance may also be

5 due to quenching of excitons by the injected charge39. The blending of QDs with host

10 improve the efficiency. The implication of this is that excitons will not form directly on the

12 QDs. As seen in figure 7a, device set 2, which uses a CBP host, an ambipolar host material,

14 improves the efficiency to 0.62±0.05%. This improvement in efficiency in CBP devices is

_J7 due to the reduced barrier to hole injection into the light-emitting layer as the HOMO energy

19 of CBP is 5.95 eV, closer to that of PVK. In contrary the efficiency does not improve in

21 device set 3 where o-DBFPPO, an electron transport material, is used whose HOMO level

23 (5.96 eV) is similar to CBP, although it reduces the turn on voltage substantially as shown in

25 figure 7b. Two factors which contribute to the higher current and lower turn-on voltage in the

30 LUMO level is 2.8 eV in comparison to the LUMO level of CBP which is 2.6 eV. Even for

32 CBP host devices, hole injection is limited by a high-energy barrier of 0.45 eV and the

34 resulting charge imbalance explains why the external efficiency is much lower than might be

39 optimized further if the charge transfer can be balanced.

42 4. Conclusions

45 In summary, we have demonstrated the use of colloidal quantum dots as efficient

47 electroluminescent materials in organic light-emitting diodes in the biological tissue window

49 of 700-900 nm. We have reported the highest PLQY of 34% for neat ligand-capped QDs in

54 capped CdS QDs. The high PLQY coupled with a PL emission in the 700 - 900 nm region is

56 due to the action of the ligands, OA, TOPO and TOP (or DPP) on the QDs surface that block

58 the cadmium and the sulphur dangling bonds respectively. By utilizing a solution processable

expected for the high PLQY. These results suggest the performance of the devices can be

thin film and 69% in solutions in the near infrared regions, and achieve this using TOPO

multilayer device, electroluminescence has been observed, and EL quantum efficiency up to 0.62% is achieved. Our results show that broad long wavelength emission produced by colloidal cadmium sulfide QDs can be useful to fabricate near infrared light-emitting devices.

Acknowledgements: We acknowledge financial support from FP7 project "Laser Induced Synthesis of Polymeric Nanocomposite Materials and Development of Micro-patterned Hybrid Light Emitting Diodes (LED) and Transistors (LET)"-LAMP project (G. A.247928). AKB and IDWS also acknowledge financial support from EPSRC Programme grant "Challenging the limits of photonics: Structured light" EP/J01771X/1.

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•O <


350 375 400 425 450

Wavelength (nm)

600 650 700 Wavelength (nm)

Figure 1: (a) Absorption cross section spectra and (b) photoluminescence spectra of the TOPO capped cadmium sulfide QDs in solutions at various times during synthesis. The sample was excited at 380 nm. The spectra in (b) are offset vertically to improve the readbility of the curves. The figure also show the chemical formula of the precursors and representation of TOPO capped QDs after thermolysis.

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m 2.6-

e 2.4-

(/) 2.2-


30 60 90 120 150 180 210 240

Time (min)

.40 .35 .30

20 f 15 | .10 ^ .05 .00

Figure 2: (a) Size (black square experimental values, black line asymptotic fitting) and FWHM (red dot experimental values, red line asymptotic fitting) trend of the CdS growth from cadmium octanthiol at 220° C. (b) TEM characterization of CdS nanoparticles, appearing with darker contrast on the amorphous carbon film of the TEM grid. (Inset) Highresolution TEM image of four CdS clusters, showing lattice fringes from CdS (100) crystal planes. (c) Histogram for the calculation of the mean size and particle size distribution determined on 45 QDs.

oN > 20

Q^ 15 10


—■ — ODE/TOP



—• — ODE

5 10 15 20 25

Ligand/precursor ratio

850-, 800750 | 700

00 650-^ .

-J 600-Q_

550 500





• Neat ODE


5 10 15 20 25

Ligand/precursor ratio


Figure 3. a) PLQY of the CdS QDs grown in ODE as a function of ligands/precursor molar ratio. b) Photoluminescence maxima (PL Max) of the CdS QDs grown in ODE as a function of ligands/precursor molar ratio. In both cases the ligands are TOP, DPP and OA. When OA and DPP are used in combination the amount of OA is kept constant with respect to precursor (0.05 mmol, ratio with respect to precursor equal to 1).

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ê 40-

CL 20-






~i—r 5

10 15 20 25

Ligand/precursor ratio

750 700

•S 650






5 10 15 20 25

Ligand/precursor ratio

Figure 4. a) PLQY of the CdS QDs grown in TOPO as a function of ligands/precursor molar ratio; b) photoluminescence maxima (PL Max) of the CdS QDs grown in TOPO as a function of ligands/precursor molar ratio. In both cases the ligands are TOP, DPP and OA. When OA and DPP are used in combination the amount of OA is kept constant (0.05 mmol) with respect to precursor (ratio equal to 1).

Figure 5. TEM results showing structural and compositional characterization of QDs formulations, a-c) TOPO sample results. a) TEM micrograph, showing QDs with darker contrast on the TEM grid. b) Electron diffraction pattern, showing CdS cubic phase (111), (220) and (311) reflections, respectively corresponding to interplanar distances of 0.34 nm, 0.21 nm and 0.18 nm. c) x-ray spectroscopy results of the composition of a group of QDs. Si and Cu originates from the TEM grid (d-f) TOPO/DPP results (g-i) Results from ODE samples (j-l) ODE/DPP sample.

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Figure 6. Diagram showing the OLED device structure and corresponding energy levels of various layers together with electroluminescence spectra.

Figure 7. a) External quantum efficiency as a function of the drive voltage. Black squares are for devices with neat quantum dots as the emissive layer (set 1), red circles are for devices with quantum dots:CBP blend as the emissive layer (set 2), blue triangles are for devices with quantum dots:o-DBFPPO blend as the emissive layer (set 3)). b) Current density and optical power density as a function of the driven voltage (solid dots represent the current density, hollow dots represent the optical power density).

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Table 1a

ODE Solvent

Ligand PLQY (%)a PL Max (nm)a

- 14.9±1.8 566±16

TOP 9.2±1.9 560±12

DPP 15.3±1.5 553±10

OA 5.7±1.8 797±21

OA/DPPb 34.7±3.1 622±17

a these are the values obtained with the ligand concentration of 1.5 mmol (ratio 30 with respect to the single source precursor); b OA 0.05 mmol constant. Table 1b

TOPO Solvent

Ligand PLQY (%)a PL Max (nm)a

- 12.7±0.9 577±21

TOP 58.6±3.6 724±10

DPP 64.7±3.7 676±12

OA 19.0±3.8 708±14

OA/DPPb 60.2±2.4 719±13

a these are the values obtained with the ligand concentration of 1.5 mmol (ratio 30 with respect to the single source precursor); b OA 0.05 mmol constant.

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Graphics for table of content

400 500 600 700 800 900 Wavelength (nm)