Broadband up-conversion at subsolar irradiance: Triplet-triplet annihilation boosted by fluorescent semiconductor nanocrystals

A. Monguzzi, D. Braga, M. Gandini, V. C. Holmberg, D. K. Kim, A. Sahu, D. J. Norris, F. Meinardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Conventional solar cells exhibit limited efficiencies in part due to their inability to absorb the entire solar spectrum. Sub-band-gap photons are typically lost but could be captured if a material that performs up-conversion, which shifts photon energies higher, is coupled to the device. Recently, molecular chromophores that undergo triplet-triplet annihilation (TTA) have shown promise for efficient up-conversion at low irradiance, suitable for some types of solar cells. However, the molecular systems that have shown the highest up-conversion efficiency to date are ill suited to broadband light harvesting, reducing their applicability. Here we overcome this limitation by combining an organic TTA system with highly fluorescent CdSe semiconductor nanocrystals. Because of their broadband absorption and spectrally narrow, size-tunable fluorescence, the nanocrystals absorb the radiation lost by the TTA chromophores, returning this energy to the up-converter. The resulting nanocrystal-boosted system shows a doubled light-harvesting ability, which allows a green-to-blue conversion efficiency of μ12.5% under 0.5 suns of incoherent excitation. This record efficiency at subsolar irradiance demonstrates that boosting the TTA by light-emitting nanocrystals can potentially provide a general route for up-conversion for different photovoltaic and photocatalytic applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6644-6650
Number of pages7
JournalNano Letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 12 2014


  • Up-conversion
  • colloidal quantum dots
  • photocatalysis
  • photovoltaics
  • semiconductor nanocrystals
  • triplet-triplet annihilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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