Nano Research

Article Title

Nitrogen-doped graphene quantum dots: Optical properties modification and photovoltaic applications


nitrogen-doped graphene quantum dots, ozone treatment, optical properties, photovoltaics, solar cells


In this work, we utilize a bottom-up approach to synthesize nitrogen self-doped graphene quantum dots (NGQDs) from a single glucosamine precursor via an eco-friendly microwave-assisted hydrothermal method. Structural and optical properties of as-produced NGQDs are further modified using controlled ozone treatment. Ozone-treated NGQDs (Oz-NGQDs) are reduced in size to 5.5 nm with clear changes in the lattice structure and ID/IG Raman ratios due to the introduction/alteration of oxygen-containing functional groups detected by Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer and further verified by energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) showing increased atomic/weight percentage of oxygen atoms. Along with structural modifications, GQDs experience decrease in ultraviolet–visible (UV–vis) absorption coupled with progressive enhancement of visible (up to 16 min treatment) and near-infrared (NIR) (up to 45 min treatment) fluorescence. This allows fine-tuning optical properties of NGQDs for solar cell applications yielding controlled emission increase, while controlled emission quenching was achieved by either blue laser or thermal treatment. Optimized Oz-NGQDs were further used to form a photoactive layer of solar cells with a maximum efficiency of 2.64% providing a 6-fold enhancement over untreated NGQD devices and a 3-fold increase in fill factor/current density. This study suggests simple routes to alter and optimize optical properties of scalably produced NGQDs to boost the photovoltaic performance of solar cells.

Graphical Abstract


Tsinghua University Press