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1.  Anomalous Optoelectronic Properties of Chiral Carbon Nanorings…and One Ring to Rule Them All23 
Carbon nanorings are hoop-shaped, π-conjugated macrocycles that form the fundamental annular segments of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs). In a very recent report, the structures of chiral carbon nanorings (which may serve as chemical templates for synthesizing chiral nanotubes) were experimentally synthesized and characterized for the first time. Here in our Letter we show that the excited-state properties of these unique chiral nanorings exhibit anomalous and extremely interesting optoelectronic properties with excitation energies growing larger as a function of size (in contradiction with typical quantum confinement effects). Although the first electronic excitation in armchair nanorings is forbidden with a weak oscillator strength, we find that the same excitation in chiral nanorings is allowed because of a strong geometric symmetry breaking. Most importantly, among all the possible nanorings synthesized in this fashion, we show that only one ring, corresponding to a SWNT with chiral indices (n+3,n+1), is extremely special with large photoinduced transitions that are most readily observable in spectroscopic experiments.
PMCID: PMC4047598  PMID: 24920994
2.  Optoelectronic and Excitonic Properties of Oligoacenes: Substantial Improvements from Range-Separated Time-Dependent Density Functional Theory 
The optoelectronic and excitonic properties in a series of linear acenes (naphthalene up to heptacene) are investigated using range-separated methods within time-dependent density functional theory (TDDFT). In these rather simple systems, it is well-known that TDDFT methods using conventional hybrid functionals surprisingly fail in describing the low-lying La and Lb valence states, resulting in large, growing errors for the La state and an incorrect energetic ordering as a function of molecular size. In this work, we demonstrate that the range-separated formalism largely eliminates both of these errors and also provides a consistent description of excitonic properties in these systems. We further demonstrate that reoptimizing the percentage of Hartree−Fock exchange in conventional hybrids to match wave function-based benchmark calculations still yields serious errors, and a full 100% Hartree−Fock range separation is essential for simultaneously describing both of the La and Lb transitions. From an analysis of electron−hole transition density matrices, we finally show that conventional hybrid functionals over-delocalize excitons and underestimate quasiparticle energy gaps in the acene systems. The results of our present study emphasize the importance of both a range-separated and asymptotically correct contribution of exchange in TDDFT for investigating optoelectronic and excitonic properties, even for these simple valence excitations.
PMCID: PMC3002181  PMID: 21170284
3.  Density Functional Study of Tetraphenylporphyrin Long-Range Exciton Coupling 
ChemistryOpen  2012;1(4):184-194.
The performance of time-dependent density functional theory (TDDFT) for calculations of long-range exciton circular dichroism (CD) is investigated. Tetraphenylporphyrin (TPP) is used as a representative of a class of strongly absorbing chromophores for which exciton CD with chromophore separations of 50 Å and even beyond has been observed experimentally. A dimer model for TPP is set up to reproduce long-range exciton CD previously observed for a brevetoxin derivative. The calculated CD intensity is consistent with TPP separations of over 40 Å. It is found that a hybrid functional with fully long-range corrected range-separated exchange performs best for full TDDFT calculations of the dimer. The range-separation parameter is optimally tuned for TPP, resulting in a good quality TPP absorption spectrum and small DFT delocalization error (measured by the curvature of the energy calculated as a function of fractional electron numbers). Calculated TDDFT data for the absorption spectra of TPP are also used as input for a ‘matrix method’ (MM) model of the exciton CD. For long-range exciton CD, comparison of MM spectra with full TDDFT CD spectra for the dimer shows that the matrix method is capable of producing very accurate results. A MM spectrum obtained from TPP absorption data calculated with the nonhybrid Becke88–Perdew86 (BP) functional is shown to match the experimental brevetoxin spectrum ‘best’, but for the wrong reasons.
PMCID: PMC3922448  PMID: 24551508
ab initio calculations; CD/LC/ORD; density-functional calculations; long-range exciton circular dichroism; porphyrins
4.  Revealing the dark side of a bright exciton–polariton condensate 
Nature Communications  2014;5:4648.
Condensation of bosons causes spectacular phenomena such as superfluidity or superconductivity. Understanding the nature of the condensed particles is crucial for active control of such quantum phases. Fascinating possibilities emerge from condensates of light–matter-coupled excitations, such as exciton–polaritons, photons hybridized with hydrogen-like bound electron–hole pairs. So far, only the photon component has been resolved, while even the mere existence of excitons in the condensed regime has been challenged. Here we trace the matter component of polariton condensates by monitoring intra-excitonic terahertz transitions. We study how a reservoir of optically dark excitons forms and feeds the degenerate state. Unlike atomic gases, the atom-like transition in excitons is dramatically renormalized on macroscopic ground state population. Our results establish fundamental differences between polariton condensation and photon lasing and open possibilities for coherent control of condensates.
Exciton–polaritons are bosonic quasi-particles resulting from strong coupling of excitons and photons but so far only their photon component had been resolved. Here, Menard et al. monitor the intra-excitonic transitions and study how a reservoir of optically dark excitons forms and feeds the degenerate state.
PMCID: PMC4143947  PMID: 25115964
5.  Optical spectrum of bottom-up graphene nanoribbons: towards efficient atom-thick excitonic solar cells 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:6579.
Recently, atomically well-defined cove-shaped graphene nanoribbons have been obtained using bottom-up synthesis. These nanoribbons have an optical gap in the visible range of the spectrum which make them candidates for donor materials in photovoltaic devices. From the atomistic point of view, their electronic and optical properties are not clearly understood. Therefore, in this work we carry out ab-initio density functional theory calculations combine with many-body perturbation formalism to study their electronic and optical properties. Through the comparison with experimental measurements, we show that an accurate description of the nanoribbon's optical properties requires the inclusion of electron-hole correlation effects. The energy, binding energy and the corresponding excitonic transitions involved are analyzed. We found that in contrast to zigzag graphene nanoribbons, the excitonic peaks in the absorption spectrum are a consequence of a group of transitions involving the first and second conduction and valence bands. Finally, we estimate some relevant optical properties that strengthen the potential of these nanoribbons for acting as a donor materials in photovoltaic.
PMCID: PMC4192635  PMID: 25301001
6.  Orbital-specific Tunability of Many-Body Effects in Bilayer Graphene by Gate Bias and Metal Contact 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:3713.
Graphene, a 2D crystal bonded by π and σ orbitals, possesses excellent electronic properties that are promising for next-generation optoelectronic device applications. For these a precise understanding of quasiparticle behaviour near the Dirac point (DP) is indispensable because the vanishing density of states (DOS) near the DP enhances many-body effects, such as excitonic effects and the Anderson orthogonality catastrophe (AOC) which occur through the interactions of many conduction electrons with holes. These effects renormalize band dispersion and DOS, and therefore affect device performance. For this reason, we have studied the impact of the excitonic effects and the AOC on graphene device performance by using X-ray absorption spectromicroscopy on an actual graphene transistor in operation. Our work shows that the excitonic effect and the AOC are tunable by gate bias or metal contacts, both of which alter the Fermi energy, and are orbital-specific.
PMCID: PMC3893642  PMID: 24429879
7.  Vibration-assisted upconversion of molecular luminescence induced by scanning tunneling microscopy 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2013;8(1):204.
We investigate the effects of coupling between a molecular exciton, which consists of an electron and a hole in a molecule, and a surface plasmon (exciton-plasmon coupling) on the electron transitions of the molecule using nonequilibrium Green’s function method. Due to the exciton-plasmon coupling, excitation channels of the molecule arise in the energy range lower than the electronic excitation energy of the molecule. It is found that the electron transitions via these excitation channels give rise to the molecular luminescence and the vibrational excitations at the bias voltage lower than the electronic excitation energy of the molecule. Our results also indicate that the vibrational excitations assist the emission of photons, whose energy exceeds the product of the elementary charge and the bias voltage, (upconverted luminescence).
PMCID: PMC3848276  PMID: 23634954
Upconversion; Molecular luminescence; Scanning tunneling microscope; Surface plasmon; Molecular vibration; Exciton-plasmon coupling; Nonequilibrium Green’s function method
8.  Engineering the Spin–Flip Limited Exciton Dephasing in Colloidal CdSe/CdS Quantum Dots 
ACS Nano  2012;6(6):5227-5233.
We have measured the intrinsic exciton dephasing in high-quality zinc blende CdSe/CdS colloidal quantum dots in the temperature range from 5 to 170 K using a sensitive three-beam photon echo technique in heterodyne detection, which is not affected by spectral diffusion. Pure dephasing via acoustic phonons dominates the initial dynamics, followed by an exponential zero-phonon line dephasing. From the temperature dependence of the zero-phonon line dephasing, the exciton lifetime, and the exciton thermalization within its fine structure, we show that the zero-phonon line dephasing of the lowest bright state originates from the phonon-assisted spin–flip to dark exciton states. Importantly, we can control the dephasing by tailoring the exciton fine structure through its dependence on the dot core size and shell thickness, as expected from the spin–flip mechanism. By reducing the electron–hole exchange interaction with increasing core size and delocalization of the electron wave function in the quasi-type-II core/shell band alignment, we find the longest zero-phonon line dephasing time of ∼110 ps at 5 K in dots with the largest core diameter (5.7 nm) and the thickest CdSe shell (9 monolayers) in the series studied.
PMCID: PMC3590878  PMID: 22564176
exciton dephasing; transient four-wave mixing; colloidal nanocystals
9.  Single-mode tunable laser emission in the single-exciton regime from colloidal nanocrystals 
Nature Communications  2013;4:2376.
Whispering-gallery-mode resonators have been extensively used in conjunction with different materials for the development of a variety of photonic devices. Among the latter, hybrid structures, consisting of dielectric microspheres and colloidal core/shell semiconductor nanocrystals as gain media, have attracted interest for the development of microlasers and studies of cavity quantum electrodynamic effects. Here we demonstrate single-exciton, single-mode, spectrally tuned lasing from ensembles of optical antenna-designed, colloidal core/shell CdSe/CdS quantum rods deposited on silica microspheres. We obtain single-exciton emission by capitalizing on the band structure of the specific core/shell architecture that strongly localizes holes in the core, and the two-dimensional quantum confinement of electrons across the elongated shell. This creates a type-II conduction band alignment driven by coulombic repulsion that eliminates non-radiative multi-exciton Auger recombination processes, thereby inducing a large exciton–bi-exciton energy shift. Their ultra-low thresholds and single-mode, single-exciton emission make these hybrid lasers appealing for various applications, including quantum information processing.
Semiconductor nanocrystals are of interest for microlasers that, for example, can be used for integrated photonics applications. Here, Grivas et al. demonstrate single-mode lasing in the single-exciton regime from core/shell CdSe/CdS quantum rods deposited on a single silica microsphere.
PMCID: PMC3759098  PMID: 23974520
10.  Understanding the Electronic Structures and Absorption Properties of Porphyrin Sensitizers YD2 and YD2-o-C8 for Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells 
The electronic structures and excitation properties of dye sensitizers determine the photon-to-current conversion efficiency of dye sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). In order to understand the different performance of porphyrin dye sensitizers YD2 and YD2-o-C8 in DSSC, their geometries and electronic structures have been studied using density functional theory (DFT), and the electronic absorption properties have been investigated via time-dependent DFT (TDDFT) with polarizable continuum model for solvent effects. The geometrical parameters indicate that YD2 and YD2-o-C8 have similar conjugate length and charge transfer (CT) distance. According to the experimental spectra, the HSE06 functional in TDDFT is the most suitable functional for describing the Q and B absorption bands of porphyrins. The transition configurations and molecular orbital analysis suggest that the diarylamino groups are major chromophores for effective CT excitations (ECTE), and therefore act as electron donor in photon-induced electron injection in DSSCs. The analysis of excited states properties and the free energy changes for electron injection support that the better performance of YD2-o-C8 in DSSCs result from the more excited states with ECTE character and the larger absolute value of free energy change for electron injection.
PMCID: PMC3821609  PMID: 24152435
porphyrin dye sensitizers; excited states; electronic structures; density functional theory; absorption spectra
11.  Optical Properties of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes Separated in a Density Gradient; Length, Bundling, and Aromatic Stacking Effects 
Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) are promising materials for in vitro and in vivo biological applications due to their high surface area and inherent near infrared photoluminescence and Raman scattering properties. Here, we use density gradient centrifugation to separate SWNTs by length and degree of bundling. Following separation, we observe a peak in photoluminescence quantum yield (PL QY) and Raman scattering intensity where SWNT length is maximized and bundling is minimized. Individualized SWNTs are found to exhibit high PL QY and high resonance-enhanced Raman scattering intensity. Fractions containing long, individual SWNTs exhibit the highest PL QY and Raman scattering intensities, compared to fractions containing single, short SWNTs or SWNT bundles. Intensity gains of approximately ~1.7 and 4-fold, respectively, are obtained compared with the starting material. Spectroscopic analysis reveals that SWNT fractions at higher displacement contain increasing proportions of SWNT bundles, which causes reduced optical transition energies and broadening of absorption features in the UV-Vis-NIR spectra, and reduced PL QY and Raman scattering intensity. Finally, we adsorb small aromatic species on “bright,” individualized SWNT sidewalls and compare the resulting absorption, PL and Raman scattering effects to that of SWNT bundles. We observe similar effects in both cases, suggesting aromatic stacking affects the optical properties of SWNTs in an analogous way to SWNT bundles, likely due to electronic structure perturbations, charge transfer, and dielectric screening effects, resulting in reduction of the excitonic optical transition energies and exciton lifetimes.
PMCID: PMC3023917  PMID: 21258607
Density Gradient Centrifugation; Fluorescence; Nanotubes; Raman Scattering; Bundling
12.  Excitonic effects on the second-order nonlinear optical properties of semi-spherical quantum dots 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2011;6(1):268.
We study the excitonic effects on the second-order nonlinear optical properties of semi-spherical quantum dots considering, on the same footing, the confinement potential of the electron-hole pair and the Coulomb interaction between them. The exciton is confined in a semi-spherical geometry by means of a three-dimensional semi-parabolic potential. We calculate the optical rectification and second harmonic generation coefficients for two different values of the confinement frequency based on the numerically computed energies and wavefunctions of the exciton. We present the results as a function of the incident photon energy for GaAs/AlGaAs quantum dots ranging from few nanometers to tens of nanometers. We find that the second-order nonlinear coefficients exhibit not only a blue-shift of the order of meV but also a change of intensity compared with the results obtained ignoring the Coulomb interaction in the so-called strong-confinement limit.
PMCID: PMC3211331  PMID: 21711791
13.  Exciton Delocalization and Transport in Photosystem I of Cyanobacteria Synechococcus elongates: Simulation Study of Coherent Two-Dimensional Optical Signals 
The journal of physical chemistry. B  2009;113(17):6097-6108.
Electronic excitations and the optical properties of the photosynthetic complex PSI are analyzed using an effective exciton model developed by Vaitekonis et al. [Photosynth. Res. 2005, 86, 185]. States of the reaction center, the linker states, the highly delocalized antenna states and the red states are identified and assigned in absorption and circular dichroism spectra by taking into account the spectral distribution of density of exciton states, exciton delocalization length, and participation ratio in the reaction center. Signatures of exciton cooperative dynamics in nonchiral and chirality-induced two-dimensional (2D) photon-echo signals are identified. Nonchiral signals show resonances associated with the red, the reaction center, and the bulk antenna states as well as transport between them. Spectrally overlapping contributions of the linker and the delocalized antenna states are clearly resolved in the chirality-induced signals. Strong correlations are observed between the delocalized antenna states, the linker states, and the RC states. The active space of the complex covering the RC, the linker, and the delocalized antenna states is common to PSI complexes in bacteria and plants.
PMCID: PMC2905166  PMID: 19351124
14.  Two-dimensional Electronic Double-Quantum Coherence Spectroscopy 
Accounts of chemical research  2009;42(9):1375-1384.
The theory of electronic structure of many-electron systems like molecules is extraordinarily complicated. A lot can be learned by considering how electron density is distributed, on average, in the average field of the other electrons in the system. That is, mean field theory. However, to describe quantitatively chemical bonds, reactions, and spectroscopy requires consideration of the way that electrons avoid each other by the way they move; this is called electron correlation (or in physics, the many-body problem for fermions). While great progress has been made in theory, there is a need for incisive experimental tests that can be undertaken for large molecular systems in the condensed phase.
Here we report a two-dimensional (2D) optical coherent spectroscopy that correlates the double excited electronic states to constituent single excited states. The technique, termed two-dimensional double-coherence spectroscopy (2D-DQCS), makes use of multiple, time-ordered ultrashort coherent optical pulses to create double- and single-quantum coherences over time intervals between the pulses. The resulting two-dimensional electronic spectrum maps the energy correlation between the first excited state and two-photon allowed double-quantum states. The principle of the experiment is that when the energy of the double-quantum state, viewed in simple models as a double HOMO to LUMO excitation, equals twice that of a single excitation, then no signal is radiated. However, electron-electron interactions—a combination of exchange interactions and electron correlation—in real systems generates a signal that reveals precisely how the energy of the double-quantum resonance differs from twice the single-quantum resonance. The energy shift measured in this experiment reveals how the second excitation is perturbed by both the presence of the first excitation and the way that the other electrons in the system have responded to the presence of that first excitation.
We compare a series of organic dye molecules and find that the energy offset for adding a second electronic excitation to the system relative to the first excitation is on the order of tens of milli-electronvolts, and it depends quite sensitively on molecular geometry. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of 2D-DQCS for elucidating quantitative information about electron-electron interactions, many-electron wavefunctions, and electron correlation in electronic excited states and excitons.
PMCID: PMC2775063  PMID: 19552412
15.  A critical assessment of the information processing capabilities of neuronal microtubules using coherent excitations 
Journal of Biological Physics  2009;36(1):53-70.
Evidence for signaling, communication, and conductivity in microtubules (MTs) has been shown through both direct and indirect means, and theoretical models predict their potential use in both classical and quantum information processing in neurons. The notion of quantum information processing within neurons has been implicated in the phenomena of consciousness, although controversies have arisen in regards to adverse physiological temperature effects on these capabilities. To investigate the possibility of quantum processes in relation to information processing in MTs, a biophysical MT model is used based on the electrostatic interior of the tubulin protein. The interior is taken to constitute a double-well potential structure within which a mobile electron is considered capable of occupying at least two distinct quantum states. These excitonic states together with MT lattice vibrations determine the state space of individual tubulin dimers within the MT lattice. Tubulin dimers are taken as quantum well structures containing an electron that can exist in either its ground state or first excited state. Following previous models involving the mechanisms of exciton energy propagation, we estimate the strength of exciton and phonon interactions and their effect on the formation and dynamics of coherent exciton domains within MTs. Also, estimates of energy and timescales for excitons, phonons, their interactions, and thermal effects are presented. Our conclusions cast doubt on the possibility of sufficiently long-lived coherent exciton/phonon structures existing at physiological temperatures in the absence of thermal isolation mechanisms. These results are discussed in comparison with previous models based on quantum effects in non-polar hydrophobic regions, which have yet to be disproved.
PMCID: PMC2791807  PMID: 19669419
Microtubules; Information processing; Coherent excitations; Quantum coherence; Phonons; Excitons
16.  Excited-State Electronic Structure with Configuration Interaction Singles and Tamm–Dancoff Time-Dependent Density Functional Theory on Graphical Processing Units 
Excited-state calculations are implemented in a development version of the GPU-based TeraChem software package using the configuration interaction singles (CIS) and adiabatic linear response Tamm–Dancoff time-dependent density functional theory (TDA-TDDFT) methods. The speedup of the CIS and TDDFT methods using GPU-based electron repulsion integrals and density functional quadrature integration allows full ab initio excited-state calculations on molecules of unprecedented size. CIS/6-31G and TD-BLYP/6-31G benchmark timings are presented for a range of systems, including four generations of oligothiophene dendrimers, photoactive yellow protein (PYP), and the PYP chromophore solvated with 900 quantum mechanical water molecules. The effects of double and single precision integration are discussed, and mixed precision GPU integration is shown to give extremely good numerical accuracy for both CIS and TDDFT excitation energies (excitation energies within 0.0005 eV of extended double precision CPU results).
PMCID: PMC3114462  PMID: 21687784
17.  Quantum confinement-induced tunable exciton states in graphene oxide 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:2250.
Graphene oxide has recently been considered to be a potential replacement for cadmium-based quantum dots due to its expected high fluorescence. Although previously reported, the origin of the luminescence in graphene oxide is still controversial. Here, we report the presence of core/valence excitons in graphene-based materials, a basic ingredient for optical devices, induced by quantum confinement. Electron confinement in the unreacted graphitic regions of graphene oxide was probed by high resolution X-ray absorption near edge structure spectroscopy and first-principles calculations. Using experiments and simulations, we were able to tune the core/valence exciton energy by manipulating the size of graphitic regions through the degree of oxidation. The binding energy of an exciton in highly oxidized graphene oxide is similar to that in organic electroluminescent materials. These results open the possibility of graphene oxide-based optoelectronic device technology.
PMCID: PMC3718196  PMID: 23872608
18.  Molecular dynamics study of the RNA ring nanostructure: a phenomenon of self-stabilization 
Physical biology  2009;6(4):46003.
We study mechanical and thermodynamic properties of RNA nanostructures focusing on a hexagonal nanoring discussed in Yingling and Shapiro (2007 Nano Lett. 7 2328). We are concerned with the following main issues: (i) the stability of the nanoring versus temperature; (ii) the effect of the environment (solvent, counterions) on its stability; (iii) conformations and dynamics under external force. The process of evaporation of the ions from the ring upon temperature drop has been found, demonstrating a surprising feature—the uptake of ions by the nanoring increases with the temperature. The connection of this behavior to the dielectric constant of water, hydration and structural changes in the nanoring is discussed. Several properties of the nanoring, such as elastic and transport coefficients, have been determined. A measure of the tensile elasticity of the ring against its uniform 2D in-plane compression has been given, as Keff ≤ 0.01 GPa, which is a much lower value compared to typical values found for soft matter other than RNA.
PMCID: PMC2790865  PMID: 19741282
19.  Universal dispersion of surface plasmons in flat nanostructures 
Nature Communications  2014;5:3604.
Dimensionality has a significant impact on the optical properties of solid-state nanostructures. For example, dimensionality-dependent carrier confinement in semiconductors leads to the formation of quantum wells, quantum wires and quantum dots. While semiconductor properties are governed by excitonic effects, the optical response of metal nanostructures is dominated by surface plasmons. Here we find that, in contrast to excitonic systems, the mode dispersions in plasmonic structures of different dimensionality are related by simple scaling rules. Employing electron energy loss spectroscopy, we show that the modes of silver nanodisks can be scaled to the surface and edge modes of extended silver thin films. We thereby introduce a general and intuitive ordering scheme for plasmonic excitations with edge and surface modes as the elementary building blocks.
The dimensionality of nanostructures is important in determining their properties. Using electron spectroscopy, Schmidt et al. systematically study the plasmonic modes in silver nanodisks as they vary their dimensionality, and find that they can be scaled to the film and edge modes of extended silver films.
PMCID: PMC4071950  PMID: 24717682
20.  The Role of the Conjugate Bridge in Electronic Structures and Related Properties of Tetrahydroquinoline for Dye Sensitized Solar Cells 
To understand the role of the conjugate bridge in modifying the properties of organic dye sensitizers in solar cells, the computations of the geometries and electronic structures for 10 kinds of tetrahydroquinoline dyes were performed using density functional theory (DFT), and the electronic absorption and fluorescence properties were investigated via time dependent DFT. The population analysis, molecular orbital energies, radiative lifetimes, exciton binding energies (EBE), and light harvesting efficiencies (LHE), as well as the free energy changes of electron injection (ΔGinject ) and dye regeneration ( ΔGdyeregen ) were also addressed. The correlation of charge populations and experimental open-circuit voltage (Voc) indicates that more charges populated in acceptor groups correspond to larger Voc. The elongating of conjugate bridge by thiophene units generates the larger oscillator strength, higher LHE, larger absolute value of ΔGinject, and longer relative radiative lifetime, but it induces the decreasing of EBE and ΔGdyeregen. So the extending of conjugate bridge with thiopene units in organic dye is an effective way to increase the harvest of solar light, and it is also favorable for electron injection due to their larger ΔGinject. While the inversely correlated relationship between EBE and LHE implies that the dyes with lower EBE produce more efficient light harvesting.
PMCID: PMC3634478  PMID: 23528853
tetrahydroquinoline dyes; electronic structure; density functional theory; absorption spectra; dye sensitized solar cells
21.  Organic Solar Cells: Understanding the Role of Förster Resonance Energy Transfer 
Organic solar cells have the potential to become a low-cost sustainable energy source. Understanding the photoconversion mechanism is key to the design of efficient organic solar cells. In this review, we discuss the processes involved in the photo-electron conversion mechanism, which may be subdivided into exciton harvesting, exciton transport, exciton dissociation, charge transport and extraction stages. In particular, we focus on the role of energy transfer as described by Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) theory in the photoconversion mechanism. FRET plays a major role in exciton transport, harvesting and dissociation. The spectral absorption range of organic solar cells may be extended using sensitizers that efficiently transfer absorbed energy to the photoactive materials. The limitations of Förster theory to accurately calculate energy transfer rates are discussed. Energy transfer is the first step of an efficient two-step exciton dissociation process and may also be used to preferentially transport excitons to the heterointerface, where efficient exciton dissociation may occur. However, FRET also competes with charge transfer at the heterointerface turning it in a potential loss mechanism. An energy cascade comprising both energy transfer and charge transfer may aid in separating charges and is briefly discussed. Considering the extent to which the photo-electron conversion efficiency is governed by energy transfer, optimisation of this process offers the prospect of improved organic photovoltaic performance and thus aids in realising the potential of organic solar cells.
PMCID: PMC3546737  PMID: 23235328
organic solar cells; photovoltaic; exciton; FRET; energy transfer; photoconversion mechanism; review
22.  Nano-engineered electron–hole exchange interaction controls exciton dynamics in core–shell semiconductor nanocrystals 
Nature Communications  2011;2:280-.
A strong electron–hole exchange interaction (EI) in semiconductor nanocrystals (NCs) gives rise to a large (up to tens of meV) splitting between optically active ('bright') and optically passive ('dark') excitons. This dark–bright splitting has a significant effect on the optical properties of band-edge excitons and leads to a pronounced temperature and magnetic field dependence of radiative decay. Here we demonstrate a nanoengineering-based approach that provides control over EI while maintaining nearly constant emission energy. We show that the dark–bright splitting can be widely tuned by controlling the electron–hole spatial overlap in core–shell CdSe/CdS NCs with a variable shell width. In thick-shell samples, the EI energy reduces to <250 μeV, which yields a material that emits with a nearly constant rate over temperatures from 1.5 to 300 K and magnetic fields up to 7 T. The EI-manipulation strategies demonstrated here are general and can be applied to other nanostructures with variable electron–hole overlap.
Electron–hole exchange interaction is an intrinsic property of semiconductors, which affects their fine structure. Brovelli et al. demonstrate a nanoengineering-based approach that provides control over the exchange interaction energy at nearly constant emission energy, which cannot be carried out using core-only nanocrystals.
PMCID: PMC3127490  PMID: 21505436
23.  Radiative and Non-Radiative Lifetime Engineering of Quantum Dots in Multiple Solvents by Surface Atom Stoichiometry and Ligands 
CdTe quantum dots have unique characteristics that are promising for applications in photoluminescence, photovoltaics or optoelectronics. However, wide variations of the reported quantum yields exist and the influence of ligand-surface interactions that are expected to control the excited state relaxation processes remains unknown. It is important to thoroughly understand the fundamental principles underlying these relaxation processes to tailor the QDs properties to their application. Here, we systematically investigate the roles of the surface atoms, ligand functional groups and solvent on the radiative and non-radiative relaxation rates. Combining a systematic synthetic approach with X-ray photoelectron, quantitative FT-IR and time-resolved visible spectroscopies, we find that CdTe QDs can be engineered with average radiative lifetimes ranging from nanoseconds up to microseconds. The non-radiative lifetimes are anticorrelated to the radiative lifetimes, although they show much less variation. The density, nature and orientation of the ligand functional groups and the dielectric constant of the solvent play major roles in determining charge carrier trapping and excitonic relaxation pathways. These results are used to propose a coupled dependence between hole-trapping on Te atoms and strong ligand coupling, primarily via Cd atoms, that can be used to engineer both the radiative and non-radiative lifetimes.
PMCID: PMC3610600  PMID: 23543893
cadmium telluride; fluorescence lifetime; infrared spectroscopy; surface states; ligand exchange; quantum dot synthesis
24.  Intrinsic radiative lifetime derived via absorption cross section of one-dimensional excitons 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:1941.
Intrinsic radiative lifetime is an essential physical property of low-dimensional excitons that represents their optical transition rate and wavefunction, which directly measures the probability of finding an electron and a hole at the same position in an exciton. However, the conventional method that is used to determine this property via measuring the temperature-dependent photoluminescence (PL) decay time involves uncertainty due to various extrinsic contributions at high temperatures. Here, we propose an alternative method to derive the intrinsic radiative lifetime via temperature-independent measurement of the absorption cross section and transformation using Einstein's A-B-coefficient equations derived for low-dimensional excitons. We experimentally verified our approach for one-dimensional (1D) excitons in high-quality 14 × 6 nm2 quantum wires by comparing it to the conventional approach. Both independent evaluations showed good agreement with each other and with theoretical predictions. This approach opens a promising path to studying low-dimensional exciton physics.
PMCID: PMC3672882  PMID: 23736905
25.  Ultrafast Multi-Level Logic Gates with Spin-Valley Coupled Polarization Anisotropy in Monolayer MoS2 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:8289.
The inherent valley-contrasting optical selection rules for interband transitions at the K and K′ valleys in monolayer MoS2 have attracted extensive interest. Carriers in these two valleys can be selectively excited by circularly polarized optical fields. The comprehensive dynamics of spin valley coupled polarization and polarized exciton are completely resolved in this work. Here, we present a systematic study of the ultrafast dynamics of monolayer MoS2 including spin randomization, exciton dissociation, free carrier relaxation, and electron-hole recombination by helicity- and photon energy-resolved transient spectroscopy. The time constants for these processes are 60 fs, 1 ps, 25 ps, and ~300 ps, respectively. The ultrafast dynamics of spin polarization, valley population, and exciton dissociation provides the desired information about the mechanism of radiationless transitions in various applications of 2D transition metal dichalcogenides. For example, spin valley coupled polarization provides a promising way to build optically selective-driven ultrafast valleytronics at room temperature. Therefore, a full understanding of the ultrafast dynamics in MoS2 is expected to provide important fundamental and technological perspectives.
PMCID: PMC4319162  PMID: 25656222

Results 1-25 (1060477)