Colloidal Synthesis and Optical Characterizations of Semiconductor Nanocrystals from Nontoxic Elements
Master of Science
Indika U. Arachchige
To date, the search efforts have shifted from the toxic II-VI, III-V and IV-VI semiconductors to more environmentally friendly materials. Among Group II-V semiconductors, Zn3P2 has shown to be a more benign option, similar to Group IV (Ge, Si) materials, for future applications in photovoltaics and optoelectronics. This work is dedicated to the development of wet-chemical synthetic routes of (1) Zn3P2 and (2) Group IV (Ge, Si, Si1-xGex) nanocrystals with precise control over composition, crystal structure, size and dispersity by adjusting different reaction parameters such as temperature, time and solvent composition. Different characterizations will also be employed to probe the size- and composition-dependent physical and optical properties of resulting products.
The first part of this work illustrates the synthesis of luminescent Zn3P2 nanocrystals, an earth-abundant and a direct-gap semiconductor possessing high absorption coefficient and long carrier diffusion length, which uphold promising potential in many optoelectronic applications. A hot injection method by using highly reactive P and Zn precursors (P[Si(CH3)3]3 and diethyl zinc) in hexadecylamine and octadecene was developed to prepare a series of alkyl-amine-passivated tetragonal Zn3P2 crystallites with varying size sizes. Substantial blue shifts in the absorption onsets (2.11−2.73 eV) in comparison to the bulk counterpart (1.4−1.5 eV) and a clear red shift with increasing particle size indicates the quantum confinement effects. This is also consistent with the photoluminescent studies with the size-tunable maxima in the visible region (469−545 nm) as a function of growth temperature and time. The phase purity and alkyl-amine passivation of the nanocrystals were determined by structural and surface analysis, confirming the presence of N–Zn and N–P bonds on the tetragonal Zn3P2 crystallites.
The second part of this works focuses on the development of a colloidal synthetic strategy of alkyl-amine capped Si1-xGex nanocrystals with control over size- and composition-dependent optical properties. Despite their high miscibility at all compositions, developing a wet-chemical synthesis of Si1-xGex alloys in the nanoscale remains a challenging task, owing to the difference of their crystallization temperatures and the high surface oxidation of Si. Thus an adapted colloidal method is utilized to fabricate single-element Ge and Si nanocrystals. Powder X-ray diffraction indicates successful production of cubic crystalline Ge and amorphous Si nanoparticles individually in oleylamine/octadecene (surfactant/solvent) mixture at 300°C. Absorption onset values of 1.28 eV and 3.11 eV are obtained for resulting Ge and Si colloids, respectively. By alloying these two materials in their nano-regime, tunable optical properties can be achieved throughout the visible to the near IR region by simply varying their elemental compositions. The success of this bandgap engineering process offers more options for new material design by taking advantage of unique properties from each component material.
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