Recent reports of multiexciton generation (MEG), a process by which one absorbed photon generates multiple excitons, in lead chalcogenide nanocrystals (NCs) have intensified research interest in using this phenomenon to improve the efficiency of solar energy conversion. Practical implementation of MEG processes in solar cells and solar-to-fuel conversion devices requires the development of materials with higher MEG efficiencies and lower excitation thresholds than are currently available, as well as schemes for efficient multiexciton extraction before the ultrafast exciton-exciton annihilation occurs.
This Account focuses on the extraction of multiexcitons by interfacial electron transfer in model NC-molecular acceptor complexes. We provide an overview of multiexciton annihilation and multiexciton dissociation (MED) processes in NC–acceptor complexes of (i) CdSe quantum dots (QDs), (ii) CdSe/CdS quasi-type II core/shell QDs, (iii) CdSe quantum confined nanorods (QRs), and (iv) PbS QDs. We show that ultrafast electron transfer to adsorbed molecular acceptors can efficiently dissociate multiexcitons generated by absorption of multiple photons in (i), (ii), and (iii). Compared to core-only CdSe QDs, the electron hole distributions in CdSe/CdS quasi-type II QDs and CdSe QRs significantly improve their MED efficiencies by simultaneously retarding Auger recombination and facilitating interfacial electron transfer. Finally, in PbS–methylene blue (MB+) complexes, we show that the presence of electron acceptors does not affect the MEG efficiency and electron transfer to MB+ efficiently dissociates the multiple excitons generated in PbS QDs. Our findings demonstrate that ultrafast interfacial charge transfer can be an efficient approach for extracting multiexcitons, and wavefunction engineering in quantum confined NCs can further improve MED efficiency.