The use of colloidal self-assembly to form the complex multiscale patterns in many optoelectronic devices has been a long-standing dream of the nanoscience community. While great progress has been made using charged colloids in polar solvents, controlled assembly from nonpolar solvents is much more challenging. The major challenge is colloidal clustering caused by strong van der Waals (vdW) attraction between long-chain surface capping ligands passivating the surface of nanocrystals. Such clustering degrades ordering in packing during the self-assembly process. While ligand exchange to provide colloidal stability in polar phases is often an option, this is not the case for the exciting new class of halide perovskites due to the material’s solubility in essentially all polar solvents. Here, we report surface-functionalized self-assembly of luminescent CsPbBr3 perovskite nanocubes by partially replacing long-chain oleyl groups (18 carbon chain) with short-chain thiocyanate (SCN–). This enables the fabrication of ultrasmooth monolayer thin films of nanocubes with a root-mean-square (RMS) roughness of around 4 Å. This ultrasmooth large area self-assembled layer could act as high-efficiency optoelectronic devices like solar cells, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), transistors, etc. We correlate our experimental results with simulations, providing detailed predictions for lattice constants with chain conformations showing reduced free energy for cubes grafted with short-chain thiocyanate compared to long-chain oleyl groups, thus facilitating better self-assembly.

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces
Nanoscale Solar Cells

Patra, B., Agrawal, H., Zheng, J.-Y., Zha, X., Travesset, A., & Garnett, E. (2020). Close-Packed Ultrasmooth Self-assembled Monolayer of CsPbBr3 Perovskite Nanocubes. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 12(28), 31764–31769. doi:10.1021/acsami.0c05945