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Power-dependent spectral shift of photoluminescence from ensembles of silicon nanocrystals

Dolf Timmerman* and Tom Gregorkiewicz

Author Affiliations

Van der Waals-Zeeman Institute, University of Amsterdam, Science Park 904, Amsterdam, NL-1098 XH, The Netherlands

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:389  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-389

Published: 12 July 2012


Nanocrystals are widely studied for their tunable optical properties, most importantly increased luminescence efficiency and emission energy. Quantum confinement effects are found for many different types of nanocrystals, and these introduce a relation between the emission wavelength and the size of nanocrystals. When ensembles of nanocrystals with a distribution of sizes are studied, this can have profound effects on their luminescence spectra. Here, we show how photoluminescence spectra of ensembles of silicon nanocrystals can shift under different excitation conditions, resulting from differences in absorption cross-section of the individual nanocrystal sizes. This effect, together with the fact that after a pulsed excitation a silicon nanocrystal can only emit a single photon, determines how the distribution of excited nanocrystals changes and leads to the spectral shift for different excitation powers. Next to this effect, the influence of different radiative rates in such ensembles is also addressed. These notions are important for the interpretation of photoluminescence data for silicon nanocrystals but can be extended to any nanoparticle system comprising size-distributed ensembles.

Nanocrystals; Silicon nanocrystal ensemble; Photoluminescence