Understanding and controlling charge transfer between different kinds of colloidal quantum dots (QDs) is important for devices such as light-emitting diodes and solar cells and for thermoelectric applications. Here we study photoinduced electron transfer between CdTe and CdSe QDs in a QD film. We find that very efficient electron trapping in CdTe QDs obstructs electron transfer to CdSe QDs under most conditions. Only the use of thiol ligands results in somewhat slower electron trapping; in this case the competition between trapping and electron transfer results in a small fraction of electrons being transferred to CdSe. However, we demonstrate that electron trapping can be controlled and even avoided altogether by using the unique combination of electrochemistry and transient absorption spectroscopy. When the Fermi level is raised electrochemically, traps are filled with electrons and electron transfer from CdTe to CdSe QDs occurs with unity efficiency. These results show the great importance of knowing and controlling the Fermi level in QD films and open up the possibility of studying the density of trap states in QD films as well as the systematic investigation of the intrinsic electron transfer rates in donor-acceptor films.
- Fermi level
- charge transfer
- quantum dot
- transient absorption spectroscopy