Adsorption and photoreactivity of CdSe nanoparticles at liquid|liquid interfaces
The voltage induced assembly and photoreactivity of cadmium selenide (CdSe) nanoparticles protected by mercaptosuccinic acid are studied at the polarisable interface between water and 1,2-dichloroethane electrolyte solutions. Cyclic voltammograms and admittance measurements show an increase of the interface excess charge associated with the adsorption of CdSe nanoparticles as the Galvani potential difference is tuned to negative values with respect to the potential in the organic phase. Within the potential range where the nanoparticles are adsorbed, band-gap illumination leads to heterogeneous electron transfer from CdSe nanoparticles to electron acceptors located in the organic phase. The interfacial Galvani potential difference plays an important role in these phenomena, as it affects the interfacial density of the nanoparticles, as well as the driving force for the electron transfer. The photocurrent efficiency also strongly depends on the formal redox potential of the electron acceptor, indicating that the heterogeneous photoreaction is kinetically controlled. The interfacial electron transfer occurs via depopulation of the deep trap states in the band gap. Analysis of the photocurrent transient responses reveals that the magnitude of the instantaneous photocurrent upon illumination is determined by the kinetics of heterogeneous electron transfer, while photogenerated holes are swiftly captured by species present in the aqueous phase. The photocurrent decay upon constant illumination is associated with the diffusion of the acceptor to the interfacial region. From the phenomenological point of view, the photoelectrochemical behaviour of CdSe nanoparticles can be compared to a self-assembled ultrathin p-type semiconductor photoelectrode.