Scanning Tunneling Luminescence of Pentacene Nanocrystals

Organic semiconductors are promising materials for future electronic and electroluminescence applications. A detailed understanding of organic layers and nano-sized crystals down to single molecules can address fundamental questions of contacting organic semiconductors at the nanometer limit and obtaining luminescence from them. In this thesis, electroluminescence spectra from pentacene, a policyclic hydrocarbon (acene), are discussed. The luminescence is induced by the current from the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope (STM). Pentacene is an organic semiconductor which gained a lot of attention in technology because of its electronic properties suitable for applications in thin film devices. Moreover, recent fundamental studies employed pentacene as a standard to demonstrate sub-molecular resolution by scanning probe techniques. This work reports the first observation of light emission from nanometer-sized pentacene crystals grown on an ultrathin insulating layer on noble metal surfaces. Different STM-techniques are combined to characterize the individual systems studied with respect to topography, crystal structure, electronic properties and work function changes. The initial step of the project was the implementation of an optical system for light collection from the tunnel-junction of a low-temperature STM. In the set-up, a novel approach based on the use of in situ adjustable lenses has been realized. Three lenses placed in the vicinity of the tip-apex allow light collection into three independent channels which can be used for versatile optical analysis. An important part in the characterization of the organic system was to clarify the interaction between adsorbed molecules and substrates. We investigated individual pentacene molecules on different ultrathin insulator-metal systems. With the STM tip in tunnel contact, the molecules are situated in a double barrier junction formed by the insulating layer on one side and the vacuum gap on the other side. The metal surface and the STM-tip form the electrodes. The electronic properties of pentacene in this configuration have been characterized. Insulator-metal-systems, which provide a good electronic decoupling for pentacene from the metal, have been chosen as substrates for the growth of pentacene nanocrystals. Using the sub-molecular resolution of the STM we resolved the structure of the top-layer of the pentacene nanocrystals and found that the crystal phase agrees with the pentacene bulk structure. Moreover, the comparison of charge injection barriers between individual molecules and nanocrystals of pentacene indicates a significant change of electronic properties after the formation of ordered structure from the individual building blocks. Optical spectroscopy of the emitted light reveals an excitonic emission from the nanocrystals, which is in very good agreement with photoemission spectra of macroscopic crystals. Although a highly localized current-injection by the STM tip is used for excitation, it can be concluded that the source of light emission is delocalized. In contrast to luminescence measurements reported for other organic materials in STM, the excitation is not localized on the individual molecule, into which a charge is injected by the STM-tip. Our study indicates the importance of inter-molecular coupling leading to a high mobility of the excited state which has to be considered in the framework of STM-induced luminescence. A further result is the observation of the Stark shift of pentacene luminescence, that has so far not been measured at large electric fields of the order of 1V/nm. The evaluation of the Stark shift provides information on dipole and polarizability change during the decay of an exciton. The measured large dipole change of the lowest singlet exciton in pentacene indicates a mixing of the Frenkel exciton (FE) with a small contribution of charge-transfer (CT). Finally, we developed a set-up for photon correlation measurements in the STM. The properties of photon statistics is a means which can unambiguously prove that the luminescence is due to a single-photon source, i.e. a light source which emits no more than one photon at a time. A typical example of such a source is the emission from a single molecule. We performed photon correlations measurements of the luminescence from pentacene and C60 nanocrystals. While the excitonic bulk emission of pentacene is not expected to represent a single photon emitter, we also did not observe anticorrelations in the case of C60 indicating the importance of the local environment in the STM-junction, e.g. the short distance to the metal electrodes.

Kern, Klaus
Lausanne, EPFL
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis4860-9

 Record created 2010-09-09, last modified 2018-01-28

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