Device Applications of Solution Processed MIR Semiconductor Nanocrystal Thin Films
Colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals (NCs) with bandgaps less than 1 eV allow the development of mid wave infrared (MIR) sensitive detectors that exploit the benefits of colloidal materials, primarily bandgap selection and solution deposition. Additionally, the electrical behaviour of these films can be examined for characteristics that can increase the functionality of NC based detectors. The production of devices that are designed to be competitive as ultra-low-cost, room temperature MIR detectors, operating with photonic, rather than thermal detection is detailed. The evolution of the colloidal synthesis, spray deposition methods, substrate materials and post deposition treatments used here lead to highly robust and high performing devices. These devices demonstrate a “colour” sensitivity down to 300 nm in the MIR (≈10 % of scale), with superior responsivities for this class of device, up to 0.9 AW⁻¹, and competitive specific detectivity up to 8 × 10⁹ Jones at 200 Hz and 300 K. Furthermore, these devices utilise a cheap and robust substrate material that allows operation after deformation up to 45 ° without degradation over many cycles. These devices offer a template for ultra-low-cost MIR detectors with performance that rivals microbolometers but with better measurement speed and spectral sensitivity. As such these devices showcase the key advantages of using colloidal NCs in MIR applications. Planar and fully air processed thin film devices that demonstrate photo-induced memristive behaviour and can be used as a transistors, photode-tectors or memory devices are investigated. Following long term (60 h) air exposure, unpackaged NC films develop reliable memristive characteristics in tandem with temperature, gate and photoresponse. On/off ratios of more than 50 are achieved and the devices show long term stability, producing repeatable metrics over days of measurement. The on/off behaviour is shown to be dependent on previous charge flow and carrier density, implying memristive rather than switching behaviour. These observations are described within a long term trap filling model. This work represents an advance in the integration of NC films into electronic devices, which may lead to the development of multi-functional electronic components. Building on the previous work the steps taken to move from a planar device, that works well in controlled conditions, to a multi-pixel sensor that can demonstrate MIR video imaging at room temperature in a noisy environment are shown. This is achieved with a 15 pixel detector that consists only of a polymer substrate and solution patterned NC pixels. This device can detect a 373 K object with the device at 298 K in a noisy environment. This performance is enabled by photogain at 5 V bias that reaches a maximum External Quantum Efficiency (EQE) of 1940 ± 290 % for a pixel with a 3.3 µm bandgap. Through the use of four separate bandgaps it is shown that “multicolour” thermal imaging systems can deliver another layer of information, on top of intensity, to the user. The behaviour of the system is examined under use and it is shown that the photoconductive device behaves as expected with regards to bias, and that trap enabled gain is sensitive to total incident flux, more than the spectral energy distribution of the target. Finally, it is shown that solution patterned QD fabrication methods can deliver electrical reproducibility between pixels that is sufficient to allow an imaging plane of multiple pixels. The somewhat neglected tin chalcogenide semiconductor nanocrystals are investigated and inverse MIR detection at room temperature is demonstrated with planar, solution and airprocessed PbSnTe and SnTe QD devices. The detection mechanism is shown to be mediated by an interaction between MIR radiation and the vibrational stretches of adsorbed hydroxyl species at the oxdised NC surface. Devices are shown to possess mAW⁻¹ responsivity via a reduction in film conductance due to MIR radiation and, unlike classic MIR photoconductors, are unaffected by visible wavelengths. As such these devices offer the possibility of MIR thermal imaging that has an intrinsic solution to the blinding caused by higher energy light sources. In summary, it is shown that semiconductor NCs with an all ambient fully solution processed deposition and ligand exchange procedure can be used to create simple, robust and cheap devices that are beginning to demonstrate metrics on par with current commercial thermal detector systems. It is also shown that these devices can under certain circumstances demonstrate novel behaviours that offer the prospects of enhanced or novel functionality.