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ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2018 Feb 14;10(6):5665-5672. doi: 10.1021/acsami.7b18780. Epub 2018 Feb 5.

Enhancing the Performance of CdSe/CdS Dot-in-Rod Light-Emitting Diodes via Surface Ligand Modification.

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Dipartimento di Chimica e Chimica Industriale, Università degli Studi di Genova , Via Dodecaneso 31, 16146 Genova, Italy.


The surface ligands on colloidal nanocrystals (NCs) play an important role in the performance of NC-based optoelectronic devices such as photovoltaic cells, photodetectors, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). On one hand, the NC emission depends critically on the passivation of the surface to minimize trap states that can provide nonradiative recombination channels. On the other hand, the electrical properties of NC films are dominated by the ligands that constitute the barriers for charge transport from one NC to its neighbor. Therefore, surface modifications via ligand exchange have been employed to improve the conductance of NC films. However, in LEDs, such surface modifications are more critical because of their possible detrimental effects on the emission properties. In this work, we study the role of surface ligand modifications on the optical and electrical properties of CdSe/CdS dot-in-rods (DiRs) in films and investigate their performance in all-solution-processed LEDs. The DiR films maintain high photoluminescence quantum yield, around 40-50%, and their electroluminescence in the LED preserves the excellent color purity of the photoluminescence. In the LEDs, the ligand exchange boosted the luminance, reaching a fourfold increase from 2200 cd/m2 for native surfactants to 8500 cd/m2 for the exchanged aminoethanethiol (AET) ligands. Moreover, the efficiency roll-off, operational stability, and shelf life are significantly improved, and the external quantum efficiency is modestly increased from 5.1 to 5.4%. We relate these improvements to the increased conductivity of the emissive layer and to the better charge balance of the electrically injected carriers. In this respect, we performed ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy (UPS) to obtain a deeper insight into the band alignment of the LED structure. The UPS data confirm similar flat-band offsets of the emitting layer to the electron- and hole-transport layers in the case of AET ligands, which translates to more symmetric barriers for charge injection of electrons and holes. Furthermore, the change in solubility of the NCs induced by the ligand exchange allows for a layer-by-layer deposition process of the DiR films, which yields excellent homogeneity and good thickness control and enables the fabrication of all the LED layers (except for cathode and anode) by spin-coating.


colloidal nanocrystals; core−shell; dot-in-rods; electroluminescence; ligand exchange; light-emitting diode; ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy


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