Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Probing dopant distribution: Opening the door to better doping of semiconductor nanocrystals

Date:
May 2, 2014
Source:
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Summary:
Researchers have shown that when doping a semiconductor to alter its electrical properties, equally important as the amount of dopant is how the dopant is distributed on the surface and throughout the material.

Schematic representation of plasmonic nanocrystals with (a) uniform and (b) surface-segregated dopant distributions. In (a), most of the electron cloud is scattered from ionized impurities (green); in (b), most of the electron cloud is oscillating away from the impurities.
Credit: Image courtesy of DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

The icing on the cake for semiconductor nanocrystals that provide a non-damped optoelectronic effect may exist as a layer of tin that segregates near the surface.

One method of altering the electrical properties of a semiconductor is by introducing impurities called dopants. A team led by Delia Milliron, a chemist at Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry, a U.S Department of Energy (DOE) national nanoscience center, has demonstrated that equally important as the amount of dopant is how the dopant is distributed on the surface and throughout the material. This opens the door for engineering the distribution of the dopant in order to control what wavelength the material will absorb and more generally how light interacts with the nanocrystals.

"Doping in semiconductor nanocrystals is still an evolving art," says Milliron. "Only in the last few years have people begun to observe interesting optical properties as a result of introducing dopants to these materials, but how the dopants are distributed within the nanocrystals remains largely unknown. What sites they occupy and where they are situated throughout the material greatly influences optical properties."

Milliron's most recent claim to fame, a "smart window" technology that not only blocks natural infrared (IR) radiation while allowing the passage of visible light through transparent coated glass, but also allows for independent control over both kinds of radiation, relies on a doped semiconductor called indium tin oxide (ITO).

(From left) Amy Bergerud, Evan Runnerstrom, Delia Milliron and Sebastien Lounis were part of a team at Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry that demonstrated the importance of dopant distribution in semiconductors. (Photo by Tracy Mattox)

ITO, in which tin (the dopant) has replaced some of the indium ions in indium oxide (the semiconductor), has become the prototypical doped semiconductor nanocrystal material. It is used in all kinds of electronic devices, including touchscreens displays, smart windows and solar cells.

"The exciting thing about this class of materials is that the dopants are able to introduce free electrons that form at high density within the material, which makes them conducting and thus useful as transparent conductors," says Milliron

But the same electrons cause the materials to be plasmonic in the IR part of the spectrum. This means that light of IR wavelength can be resonant with free electrons in the material: the oscillating electric fields in the light resonate and can cause absorption.

"[These materials] can absorb IR light in a way that's tunable by adjusting the doping, while still being transparent to natural visible light. A tunable amount of absorption of IR light allows you to control heating. For us, that's the driving application," explains Milliron.

Until now, adjustments have been made by changing the amount of dopant in the semiconductor. Puzzled by studies in which optical properties did not behave as expected, Milliron and University of California (UC) Berkeley PhD candidate Sebastien Lounis looked to x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy to probe electrons near the surface of the ITO samples and investigate the distribution of elements within the samples at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL).

The SSRL uses a tuneable beam of photons to excite electrons inside the material. If the electrons are close enough to the surface, they can sometimes be emitted and collected by a detector. These electrons provide information about the properties of the material, including the ratio of the amounts of different elements like indium and tin in ITO. Increasing the energy of the x-ray beam shows how the composition of tin and indium changes as one moves deeper into the sample. Ultimately, the spectroscopy technique allowed Milliron and her team to probe the doping distribution as a function of distance from the nanocrystals' surface.

Studies of two sets of samples allowed them to correlated tin distribution with optical properties, and showed that the shape and wavelength of plasmon absorption depended on tin distribution. The tin segregated on the surface showed reduced activation of dopants and symmetric plasmon resonances, with no damping caused by the dopants.

"When the tin sits near the surface, it interacts only weakly with the majority of the free electrons," explains Lounis. "This gives us the benefits of doping without some of drawbacks."

"Now that we know how to probe, we can go after targeted design features for particular applications," concludes Milliron. Deliberate placement of dopants by design provides a new tool for "dialing in plasmonic materials to do exactly what we want in terms of interaction with light."

This research was primarily supported by the DOE Office of Science.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sebastien D. Lounis, Evan L. Runnerstrom, Amy Bergerud, Dennis Nordlund, Delia J. Milliron. Influence of Dopant Distribution on the Plasmonic Properties of Indium Tin Oxide Nanocrystals. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2014; 140430144606006 DOI: 10.1021/ja502541z

Cite This Page:

DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "Probing dopant distribution: Opening the door to better doping of semiconductor nanocrystals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140502155824.htm>.
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. (2014, May 2). Probing dopant distribution: Opening the door to better doping of semiconductor nanocrystals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140502155824.htm
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "Probing dopant distribution: Opening the door to better doping of semiconductor nanocrystals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140502155824.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Argentina's Tax Evaders Detected, Hunted Down by Drones

Argentina's Tax Evaders Detected, Hunted Down by Drones

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) Argentina doesn't only have Lionel Messi the footballer, it has now also acquired "Mesi" the drone system which monitors undeclared mansions, swimming pools and soy fields to curb tax evasion in the country. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) More and more studies are showing positive benefits to playing video games, but the jury is still out on brain training programs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CERN Celebrates 60 Years of Science

CERN Celebrates 60 Years of Science

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 29, 2014) CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, celebrates 60 years of bringing nations together through science. As Joanna Partridge reports from inside the famous science centre it's also planning to turn the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator back on after an upgrade. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
This 'Invisibility Cloak' Is Simpler Than Most

This 'Invisibility Cloak' Is Simpler Than Most

Newsy (Sep. 28, 2014) Researchers from the University of Rochester have created a type of invisibility cloak with simple focal lenses. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins