Argonne researcher studies what makes quantum dots blink

October 04, 2007

In order to learn more about the origins of quantum dot blinking, researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Chicago and the California Institute of Technology have developed a method to characterize it on faster time scales than have previously been accessed.

Nanocrystals of semiconductor material, also known as quantum dots, are being intensively investigated for applications such as light-emitting diodes, solid-state lighting, lasers, and solar cells. They are also already being applied as fluorescent labels for biological imaging, providing several advantages over the molecular dyes typically used, including a wider range of emitted colors and much greater stability.

Quantum dots have great promise as light-emitting materials, because the wavelength, or color, of light that the quantum dots give off can be very widely tuned simply by changing the size of the nanoparticles. If a single dot is observed under a microscope, it can be seen to randomly switch between bright and dark states. This flickering, or blinking, behavior has been widely studied, and it has been found that a single dot can blink off for times that can vary between microseconds and several minutes. The causes of the blinking, though, remain the subject of intense study.

The methods developed by Matt Pelton of Argonne's Center for Nanoscale Materials and his team of collaborators has revealed a previously unobserved change in the blinking behavior on time scales less than a few microseconds. This observation is consistent with the predictions of a model for quantum-dot blinking previously developed by Nobel Laureate Rudolph Marcus, contributor to this research, and his co-workers. In this model, the blinking is controlled by the random fluctuation of energy levels in the quantum dot relative to the energies of trap states on the surface of the nanocrystal or in the nearby environment.

The results of this research provide new insight into the mechanism of quantum-dot blinking, and should help in the development of methods to control and suppress blinking. Detailed results of this work have been published in a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
-end-
Argonne's Center for Nanoscale Materials work for this research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Basic Energy Science.

Argonne National Laboratory, a renowned R&D center, brings the world's brightest scientists and engineers together to find exciting and creative new solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America 's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

Related Quantum Dots Articles from Brightsurf:

Direct visualization of quantum dots reveals shape of quantum wave function
Trapping and controlling electrons in bilayer graphene quantum dots yields a promising platform for quantum information technologies.

Scientists age quantum dots in a test tube
Researchers from MIPT and the RAS Institute of Problems of Chemical Physics have proposed a simple and convenient way to obtain arbitrarily sized quantum dots required for physical experiments via chemical aging.

'Growing' active sites on quantum dots for robust H2 photogeneration
Chinese researchers had achieved site- and spatial- selective integration of earth-abundant metal ions in semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) for efficient and robust photocatalytic H2 evolution from water.

New insights into the energy levels in quantum dots
Researchers from Basel, Bochum and Copenhagen have gained new insights into the energy states of quantum dots.

What a pair! Coupled quantum dots may offer a new way to store quantum information
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and their colleagues have for the first time created and imaged a novel pair of quantum dots -- tiny islands of confined electric charge that act like interacting artificial atoms.

Spinning quantum dots
A new paper in EPJ B presents a theoretical analysis of electron spins in moving semiconductor quantum dots, showing how these can be controlled by electric fields in a way that suggests they may be usable as information storage and processing components of quantum computers.

Controlling the charge state of organic molecule quantum dots in a 2D nanoarray
Australian researchers have fabricated a self-assembled, carbon-based nanofilm where the charge state (ie, electronically neutral or positive) can be controlled at the level of individual molecules.

Modified quantum dots capture more energy from light and lose less to heat
Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have synthesized magnetically-doped quantum dots that capture the kinetic energy of electrons created by ultraviolet light before it's wasted as heat.

Using quantum dots and a smartphone to find killer bacteria
A combination of off-the-shelf quantum dot nanotechnology and a smartphone camera soon could allow doctors to identify antibiotic-resistant bacteria in just 40 minutes, potentially saving patient lives.

Synthesizing single-crystalline hexagonal graphene quantum dots
A KAIST team has designed a novel strategy for synthesizing single-crystalline graphene quantum dots, which emit stable blue light.

Read More: Quantum Dots News and Quantum Dots Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.