Assembly of PbTe/Pb-based nanocomposite and photoelectric property
© Zong et al.; licensee Springer. 2013
Received: 12 March 2013
Accepted: 15 April 2013
Published: 24 April 2013
PbTe/Pb-based nanocomposite was assembled by combining the regular PbTe/Pb nanostructure and the Zn x Mn1−xS nanoparticles; the photoelectric property of the nanocomposite was measured in situ. The results showed that the through current of the nanocomposite had an obvious increase compared to that of the individual PbTe/Pb nanomaterial under the same irradiation conditions. The improvement of photoelectric performance would be attributed to the synergistic effect brought by the incident light and exciting light of the Zn x Mn1−xS nanoparticles. The result implied that the underlying mechanism could be used to improve the performance of nano-optoelectronic devices and the light-use efficiency of solar devices.
With the development of nanotechnology, complex micro/nanodevice assembly would gradually be a reality in the future. The various explorations in the aspects of nanomaterial preparation and performance at present provide the base for nano-engineering, in which the controllable preparation and unique performance of nanomaterials have been the keys of exploration. With the aim of exploiting new coupling phenomena and potential applications, nanocomposites have attracted much attention over the past decade[1–5]. The typical preparation way is through an in situ fabrication; the different components are integrated together to form a nanocomposite at the same time. For example, metallic nanocrystals could be incorporated into one-dimensional (1D) carbons to form a metal-carbon nanocomposite via an organometallic precursor-controlled thermolysis approach. Unprecedented physical and chemical properties become available due to the effects of spatial confinement and synergetic electronic interactions between metallic and carbonaceous components. This type of nanocomposite has shown unique properties in some aspects including magnetic, catalytic, electronic, and thermoelectric properties[7–10]. Another preparation way is the surface recombination of several different individual nanomaterials using a physical or chemical method. Due to the complexity and importance of the nanomaterial surface property, this type of nanocomposite can more easily show the new phenomenon and unique performance. A semiconductor quantum dot such as CdSe was coated onto the surface of a silver nanowire. The emission energy of the excited CdSe quantum dot near the silver nanowire could couple to guided surface plasmons in the nanowire. Especially, in the optical properties, this type of nanocomposite has attracted great scientific interest. It is just the complexity of the interaction; different factors, including composition, size, and geometry of the nanostructures; and the distance between nanostructures that provide the challenge for quantifiable research and the mechanism achievement of a new phenomenon. So, the preparation and synthesis of uniform nanomaterials in terms of morphology and structure provide the important precondition for the further study of material properties.
As a narrow bandgap semiconductor (approximately 0.32 eV, at 300 K), lead telluride (PbTe) has been extensively studied and used in optical detectors, laser devices[14, 15], and thermoelectrics[16, 17]. Compared to other semiconductor materials, low-dimensional PbTe semiconductors could more easily show the obvious quantum size effect on larger scales because of the larger Bohr exciton radius (approximately 46 nm). So, 1D PbTe nanomaterials have attracted intense scientific attention in recent years and have been synthesized by a variety of physical and chemical techniques[16–22]. The solution-based chemical synthesis and chemical vapor deposition have been usually utilized to synthesize single-crystalline PbTe nanowires, and the conventional electrical property measurement of PbTe nanowires has been achieved[16, 23]. However, less attention has been paid to the preparation and unique property study of 1D PbTe-based nanocomposites at present.
In this paper, we first electrodeposited the nanostructure arrays made of a uniform PbTe/Pb nanostructure in size and composition. Then, the regular PbTe/Pb nanostructure arrays and the synthesized Zn x Mn1−xS nanoparticles were assembled to construct a PbTe-based nanocomposite. The photoelectric property measurements of the material were also performed in situ along with the assembly process of the nanocomposite. The measurement results showed that the photoelectric performance of the PbTe/Pb-based nanocomposite had an obvious improvement compared to that of the individual PbTe/Pb nanomaterial. The improved performance of the nanocomposite could originate from the synergistic effect brought by the incident light and exciting light of the nanoparticles. The underlying mechanism shows that the light-use efficiency (LUE) of the PbTe/Pb-based nanocomposite had an obvious increase compared to that of the PbTe/Pb nanomaterial.
Synthesis of nanostructure arrays by electrodeposition
The electrodeposition of the PbTe/Pb nanostructure arrays was carried out by applying a square wave potential with a frequency of 1 Hz (in Figure 1b) across the ultrathin layer. The electrolyte was prepared using analytical reagent Pb(NO3)2, TeO2 (Fluka, Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, St. Louis, MO, USA), and Millipore water (Millipore Co., Billerica, MA, USA). The ion concentrations of Pb2+ and HTeO2+ in the electrolyte were 0.005 and 0.001 M, respectively. The pH value of the electrolyte was adjusted to 1.87 by nitric acid. The treated silicon substrate (20 × 20 mm2) (Fluka) was first placed on the Peltier element. Silicon was treated using chemical erosion and oxidation process, which would bring an insulation and uniform thickness of the SiO2 layer on the surface of the silicon wafer. Next, the two parallel lead foil electrodes with 30-μm thickness (Fluka) were placed on the substrate and filled with the electrolyte. A cover glass was put on the electrodes, and the simple electrolytic cell was assembled. After that, the temperature control system consisted of a circulating water bath, and the Peltier element was used to solidify the electrolyte. Due to the partitioning effect, the solute in the electrolyte could be partially expelled from the solid in the solidification process. The concentrated electrolyte layer with 300-nm thickness was formed between the ice from the electrolyte and the SiO2/Si substrate when the temperature dropped to −5.20°C. The temperature played an important role to the control of the electrolyte layer thickness and concentration. The lower temperature could cause the solute in the electrolyte layer to be further expelled from the solid, which made the concentration of the electrolyte layer more concentrated. Meanwhile, the thickness of ice increased, and the electrolyte layer thickness reduced. The electrodeposition process was achieved by applying a square wave potential with a frequency of 1 Hz.
Results and discussion
Simulation analysis of electric field vector distributions
In the preparation of the regular PbTe/Pb nanostructure arrays, the limitation of the electrodeposition room was a key factor. The preparation of one-dimensional nanomaterials could be achieved in the quasi-two-dimensional room by the reasonable control of electrolyte concentration and reduction potentials. Every PbTe/Pb nanostructure was composed of periodic growth parts with changed diameter. The controllable morphology mainly originated from two factors: one was the balance between the supply and the consumption of cations in the front area of the growth tip, while the other important factor was the applied voltage.
In situ assembly and photoelectric property measurement
In summary, the PbTe/Pb-based nanocomposite is assembled by combining the PbTe/Pb nanostructure arrays and the Zn x Mn1−xS nanoparticles. The photoelectric measurement shows that the photoelectric performance of the PbTe/Pb-based nanocomposite had an obvious improvement compared to that of the individual PbTe/Pb nanomaterial. The improvement of photoelectric performance could originate from the synergistic effect of the incident light of the laser and the stimulated radiation of the Zn x Mn1−xS nanoparticles on the surface of the PbTe/Pb nanostructure. The result implies that the underlying mechanism may be used to improve the performance of nano-optoelectronic devices and explore the novel properties of nanocomposites.
This work is supported by the National Science Foundation of China (no.11204271, 11104248), Scientific Research Fund of Zhejiang Provincial Education Department (no.Y201225155), and Youth Fund of Zhejiang Ocean University.
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