Open Access Nano Express

Lateral electrical transport, optical properties and photocurrent measurements in two-dimensional arrays of silicon nanocrystals embedded in SiO2

Spiros Gardelis*, Pavlos Manousiadis and Androula G Nassiopoulou*

Author Affiliations

IMEL/NCSR Demokritos, Terma Patriarchou Grigoriou, Aghia Paraskevi, 15310 Athens, Greece

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:227  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-227

Published: 16 March 2011


In this study we investigate the electronic transport, the optical properties, and photocurrent in two-dimensional arrays of silicon nanocrystals (Si NCs) embedded in silicon dioxide, grown on quartz and having sizes in the range between less than 2 and 20 nm. Electronic transport is determined by the collective effect of Coulomb blockade gaps in the Si NCs. Absorption spectra show the well-known upshift of the energy bandgap with decreasing NC size. Photocurrent follows the absorption spectra confirming that it is composed of photo-generated carriers within the Si NCs. In films containing Si NCs with sizes less than 2 nm, strong quantum confinement and exciton localization are observed, resulting in light emission and absence of photocurrent. Our results show that Si NCs are useful building blocks of photovoltaic devices for use as better absorbers than bulk Si in the visible and ultraviolet spectral range. However, when strong quantum confinement effects come into play, carrier transport is significantly reduced due to strong exciton localization and Coulomb blockade effects, thus leading to limited photocurrent.