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High-Sensitivity p–n Junction Photodiodes Based on PbS Nanocrystal Quantum Dots

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Abstract

Chemically synthesized nanocrystal quantum dots (NQDs) are promising materials for applications in solution-processable optoelectronic devices such as light emitting diodes, photodetectors, and solar cells. Here, we fabricate and study two types of p-n junction photodiodes in which the photoactive p-layer is made from PbS NQDs while the transparent n-layer is fabricated from wide bandgap oxides (ZnO or TiO2). By using a p–n junction architecture we are able to significantly reduce the dark current compared to earlier Schottky junction devices without reducing external quantum efficiency (EQE), which reaches values of up to ∼80%. The use of this device architecture also allows us to significantly reduce noise and obtain high detectivity (>1012 cm Hz1/2 W−1) extending to the near infrared past 1 μm. We observe that the spectral shape of the photoresponse exhibits a significant dependence on applied bias, and specifically, the EQE sharply increases around 500–600 nm at reverse biases greater than 1 V. We attribute this behavior to a “turn-on” of an additional contribution to the photocurrent due to electrons excited to the conduction band from the occupied mid-gap states.

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