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The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters

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Scanning tunneling microscopy, Nanosilicon, Nanocrystals, Electronic structure


The photophysical properties of silicon semiconductor nanocrystals (SiNCs) are extremely sensitive to the presence of surface chemical defects, many of which are easily produced by oxidation under ambient conditions. The diversity of chemical structures of such defects and the lack of tools capable of probing individual defects continue to impede understanding of the roles of these defects in SiNC photophysics. We use scanning tunneling spectroscopy to study the impact of surface defects on the electronic structures of hydrogen-passivated SiNCs supported on the Au(111) surface. Spatial maps of the local electronic density of states (LDOS) produced by our measurements allowed us to identify locally enhanced defect-induced states as well as quantum-confined states delocalized throughout the SiNC volume. We use theoretical calculations to show that the LDOS spectra associated with the observed defects are attributable to Si–O–Si bridged oxygen or Si–OH surface defects.


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© 2016 American Chemical Society

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