Quantum dot materials

Optimizing nanostructures for energy devices

Testing with an ultrafast laser confirms that the researchers' new techniques enable them to control the nanoscale structure of their materials—the key to high performance in energy devices. Credit: Stuart Darsch

We should be able to produce beautifully ordered, large-area structures well suited for devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and thermoelectric systems.

William Tisdale

For quantum dot (QD) materials to perform well in devices such as solar cells, the nanoscale crystals in them need to pack together tightly so that electrons can hop easily from one dot to the next and flow out as current. MIT researchers have now made QD films in which the dots vary by just one atom in diameter and are organized into solid lattices with unprecedented order. Subsequent processing pulls the QDs in the film closer together, further easing the electrons’ pathway. Tests using an ultrafast laser confirm that the energy levels of vacancies in adjacent QDs are so similar that hopping electrons don’t get stuck in low-energy dots along the way. Taken together, the results suggest a new direction for ongoing efforts to develop these promising materials for high performance in electronic and optical devices.

This research was supported in part by the MIT Energy Initiative Seed Fund