Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Sean E. Shaheen

Second Advisor

Sean E. Shaheen

Third Advisor

Joseph M. Luther

Fourth Advisor

Garret Moddel


Colloidal quantum dots (QDs) are a widely investigated field of research due to their highly tunable nature in which the optical and electronic properties of the nanocrystal can be manipulated by merely changing the nanocrystal’s size. Specifically, colloidal quantum dot solar cells (QDSCs) have become a promising candidate for future generation photovoltaic technology. Quantum dots exhibit multiple exciton generation (MEG) in which multiple electron-hole pairs are generated from a single high-energy photon. This process is not observed in bulk-like semiconductors and allows for QDSCs to achieve theoretical efficiency limits above the standard single-junction Shockley-Queisser limit. However, the fast expanding field of QDSC research has lacked standardization of synthetic techniques and device design. Therefore, we sought to detail methodology for synthesizing PbS and PbSe QDs as well as photovoltaic device fabrication techniques as a fast track toward constructing high-performance solar cells. We show that these protocols lead toward consistently achieving efficiencies above 8% for PbS QDSCs.

Using the same methodology for building single-junction photovoltaic devices, we incorporated PbS QDs as a bottom cell into a monolithic tandem architecture along with solution-processed CdTe nanocrystals. Modeling shows that near-peak tandem device efficiencies can be achieved across a wide range of bottom cell band gaps, and therefore the highly tunable band gap of lead-chalcogenide QDs lends well towards a bottom cell in a tandem architecture. A fully functioning monolithic tandem device is realized through the development of a ZnTe/ZnO recombination layer that appropriately combines the two subcells in series.

Multiple recent reports have shown nanocrystalline heterostructures to undergo the MEG process more efficiency than several other nanostrucutres, namely lead-chalcogenide QDs. The final section of my thesis expands upon a recent publication by Zhang et. al., which details the synthesis of PbS/CdS heterostructures in which the PbS and CdS domains exist on opposite sides of the nanocrystal and are termed “Janus particles”. Transient absorption spectroscopy shows MEG quantum yields above unity very the thermodynamic limit of 2Eg for PbS/CdS Janus particles. We further explain a mechanism for enhanced MEG using photoluminescence studies.