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Energetics at the Surface: Direct Optical Mapping of Core and Surface Electronic Structure in CdSe Quantum Dots Using Broadba...

by Brianna Watson, Benjamin L Doughty, Tessa Calhoun
Publication Type
Journal Name
Nano Letters
Publication Date
Page Numbers
6157 to 6165

Understanding and controlling the electronic structure of nanomaterials is the key to tailoring their use in a wide range of practical applications. Despite this need, many important electronic states are invisible to conventional optical measurements and are typically identified indirectly based on their inferred impact on luminescence properties. This is especially common and important in the study of nanomaterial surfaces and their associated defects. Surface trap states play a crucial role in photophysical processes yet remain remarkably poorly understood. Here we demonstrate for the first time that broadband electronic sum frequency generation (eSFG) microspectroscopy can directly map the optically bright and dark states of nanoparticles, including the elusive below gap states. This new approach is applied to model cadmium selenide (CdSe) quantum dots (QDs), where the energies of surface trap states have eluded direct optical characterization for decades. Our eSFG measurements show clear signatures of electronic transitions both above the band gap, which we assign to previously reported one- and two-photon transitions associated with the CdSe core, as well as broad spectral signatures below the band gap that are attributed to surface states. In addition to the core states, this analysis reveals two distinct distributions of below gap states, providing the first direct optical measurement of both shallow and deep surface states on this system. Finally, chemical modification of the surfaces via oxidation results in the relative increase in the signals originating from the surface states. Overall, our eSFG experiments provide an avenue to directly map the entirety of the QD core and surface electronic structure, which is expected to open up opportunities to study how these materials are grown in situ and how surface states can be controlled to tune functionality.