Semiconductor nanocrystals, or quantum dots (QDs), simultaneously benefit from inexpensive low-temperature solution processing and exciting photophysics, making them the ideal candidates for next-generation solar cells and photodetectors. While the working principles of these devices rely on light absorption, QDs intrinsically belong to the Rayleigh regime and display optical behavior limited to electric dipole resonances, resulting in low absorption efficiencies. Increasing the absorption efficiency of QDs, together with their electronic and excitonic coupling to enhance charge carrier mobility, is therefore of critical importance to enable practical applications. Here, we demonstrate a general and scalable approach to increase both light absorption and excitonic coupling of QDs by fabricating hierarchical metamaterials. We assemble QDs into crystalline supraparticles using an emulsion template and demonstrate that these colloidal supercrystals (SCs) exhibit extended resonant optical behavior resulting in an enhancement in absorption efficiency in the visible range of more than 2 orders of magnitude with respect to the case of dispersed QDs. This successful light trapping strategy is complemented by the enhanced excitonic coupling observed in ligand-exchanged SCs, experimentally demonstrated through ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy and leading to the formation of a free biexciton system on sub-picosecond time scales. These results introduce a colloidal metamaterial designed by self-assembly from the bottom up, simultaneously featuring a combination of nanoscale and mesoscale properties leading to simultaneous photonic and excitonic coupling, therefore presenting the nanocrystal analogue of supramolecular structures.

, ,
The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
ACS Nano
Resonant Nanophotonics

Marino, E., Sciortino, A., Berkhout, A., MacArthur, K., Heggen, M., Gregorkiewicz, T., … Schall, P. (2020). Simultaneous Photonic and Excitonic Coupling in Spherical Quantum Dot Supercrystals. ACS Nano, 14(10), 13806–13815. doi:10.1021/acsnano.0c06188