Exciton dynamics of C-60-based single-photon emitters explored by Hanbury Brown-Twiss scanning tunnelling microscopy
Exciton creation and annihilation by charges are crucial processes for technologies relying on charge-exciton-photon conversion. Improvement of organic light sources or dye-sensitized solar cells requires methods to address exciton dynamics at the molecular scale. Near-field techniques have been instrumental for this purpose; however, characterizing exciton recombination with molecular resolution remained a challenge. Here, we study exciton dynamics by using scanning tunnelling microscopy to inject current with sub-molecular precision and Hanbury Brown-Twiss interferometry to measure photon correlations in the far-field electroluminescence. Controlled injection allows us to generate excitons in solid C-60 and let them interact with charges during their lifetime. We demonstrate electrically driven single-photon emission from localized structural defects and determine exciton lifetimes in the picosecond range. Monitoring lifetime shortening and luminescence saturation for increasing carrier injection rates provides access to charge-exciton annihilation dynamics. Our approach introduces a unique way to study single quasi-particle dynamics on the ultimate molecular scale.