Indexed on: 19 Mar '16Published on: 02 Mar '16Published in: Chemical Science
Quantum confined semiconductor nanocrystals have emerged as a new class of materials for light harvesting and charge separation applications due to the ability to control their properties through rational design of their size, shape and composition. We report here a study of enhancing the quantum yield of methyl viologen (MV2+) photoreduction using colloidal quasi-type II CdSe/CdS core/shell quantum dots (QDs). The steady-state quantum yield of MV+˙ radical generation, in the presence of thiols as sacrificial donors, increased monotonically with the CdS shell thickness within the studied thickness regime (0–4.7 CdS monolayers). Using ultrafast transient absorption and time-resolved photoluminescence decay spectroscopy, we found that both the rates of electron transfer from the QD to MV2+ and the subsequent charge recombination in QD+–MV+˙ complexes decreased exponentially with the shell thickness, consistent with calculated 1S electron and hole densities at the QD surfaces, respectively. Interestingly, the hole transfer rate remained relatively independent of shell thickness, likely due to a cancellation of the reduction of hole transfer coupling strength with the increased number of hole acceptor ligands on the QD surface at larger shell thickness. As a result, with increasing CdS shell thickness, the charge recombination loss decreases, enhancing the photoreduction quantum efficiency. This novel approach for improving photoreduction quantum efficiency should be applicable to many type II and quasi-type II core/shell quantum dots.