One of the important factors limiting solar-cell efficiency is that incident photons generate one electron–hole pair, irrespective of the photon energy. Any excess photon energy is lost as heat. The possible generation of multiple charge carriers per photon (carrier multiplication) is therefore of great interest for future solar cells1. Carrier multiplication is known to occur in bulk semiconductors, but has been thought to be enhanced significantly in nanocrystalline materials such as quantum dots, owing to their discrete energy levels and enhanced Coulomb interactions1–3. Contrary to this expectation, we demonstrate here that, for a given photon energy, carrier multiplication occurs more efficiently in bulk PbS and PbSe than in quantum dots of the same materials. Measured carriermultiplication efficiencies in bulk materials are reproduced quantitatively using tight-binding calculations, which indicate that the reduced carrier-multiplication efficiency in quantum dots can be ascribed to the reduced density of states in these structures.

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Journal Nature Phys.
Project LMPV
Pijpers, J. J. H, Ulbricht, R, Tielrooij, K. J, Osherov, A, Golan, Y, Delerue, C, … Bonn, M. (2009). Assessment of carrier multiplication efficiency in bulk PbSe and PbS. Nature Phys., 5, 811–814. doi:10.1038/nphys1393