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Strong Quantum Confinement Effects and Chiral Excitons in Bio-Inspired ZnO-Amino Acid Cocrystals

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Author: Muhammed, M.A.H. · Lamers, M. · Baumann, V. · Dey, P. · Blanch, A.J. · Polishchuk, I. · Kong, X.T. · Levy, D. · Urban, A.S. · Govorov, A.O. · Pokroy, B. · Rodríguez-Fernández, J. · Feldmann, J.
Publisher: American Chemical Society
Source:Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 11, 122, 6348-6356
Identifier: 788253
doi: doi:10.1021/acs.jpcc.8b01567
Keywords: Amino acids · Biomolecules · Energy gap · II-VI semiconductors · Light emission · Magnetic semiconductors · Optoelectronic devices · Quantum confinement · Wide band gap semiconductors · Zinc oxide · Amino acid co-crystals · Band gap engineering · Band-edge emissions · Direct band gap semiconductors · Inter-band excitations · Light emitting properties · Quantum confinement effects · Underlying principles · Photonic band gap


Elucidating the underlying principles behind band gap engineering is paramount for the successful implementation of semiconductors in photonic and optoelectronic devices. Recently it has been shown that the band gap of a wide and direct band gap semiconductor, such as ZnO, can be modified upon cocrystallization with amino acids, with the role of the biomolecules remaining unclear. Here, by probing and modeling the light-emitting properties of ZnO-amino acid cocrystals, we identify the amino acids' role on this band gap modulation and demonstrate their effective chirality transfer to the interband excitations in ZnO. Our 3D quantum model suggests that the strong band edge emission blue-shift in the cocrystals can be explained by a quasi-periodic distribution of amino acid potential barriers within the ZnO crystal lattice. Overall, our findings indicate that biomolecule cocrystallization can be used as a truly bio-inspired means to induce chiral quantum confinement effects in quasi-bulk semiconductors.