The Redox Potentials of n-type Colloidal Semiconductor Nanocrystals
Carroll, Gerard Michael
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis presents investigations for two related fields of semiconductor electrochemistry: redox potential determination of colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals, and mechanistic analysis of photoelectrochemical water oxidation with electrocatalyst modified mesostructured hematite photoanodes. Adapting electrochemical techniques to colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals (SC NC) is a long-standing challenge for this class of materials. Subject to a variety of complications, standard voltammetric techniques are not as straight forward for SC NCs as they are for small molecules. As a result, researchers have developed creative ways to side step these complications by coupling electrochemistry with NC spectroscopy. Chapter 1 discusses the fundamental electronic and spectroscopic properties of SC NCs at different redox states. We present a brief review of some of the notable studies employing SC NC spectroelectrochemistry that provide the theoretical and experimental context for the following chapters. Chapter 2 presents an investigation on NC redox potentials of photochemically reduced colloidal ZnO NCs using a solvated redox-indicator method. In the one electron limit, conduction band electrons show evidence of quantum confinement, but at higher electron concentrations, the NC Fermi-level becomes dependent on the electron density across all NC sizes. Chapter 3 outlines a poteniometric method for monitoring the NC redox potentials in situ. NC redox potentials for ZnO and CdSe are measured, and as predicted from these measurements, spontaneous electron transfer from CdSe to ZnO is demonstrated. Chapter 4 details the impact of the surface of CdSe NCs on the NC redox potentials. We find that the ratio of Cd2+:Se2- on the surface of CdSe NCs changes both the NC band edge potentials, as well as the maximum electron density achievable by photochemical reduction. These changes are proposed to arise from interfacial dipoles when CdSe has a Se2--rich surface. Chapters 5 and 6 examine the mechanistic pathways of solar water oxidation on Co-Pi modified α-Fe2O3 photoanodes. A rate constant analysis of water oxidation and electron-hole recombination paired with the identification of surface-morphology-dependent current-voltage characteristics reveal new insights into the role of the semiconductor/electrocatalyst interface on the overall solar water oxidation efficiency. These findings reconcile disparate observations from previous studies.
- Chemistry