Fast Current Blinking in Individual PbS and CdSe Quantum Dots

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Fast current intermittency of the tunneling current through single semiconductor quantum dots was observed through time-resolved intermittent contact conductive atomic force microscopy in the dark and under illumination at room temperature. The current through a single dot switches on and off at time scales ranging from microseconds to seconds with power-law distributions for both the on and off times. On states are attributed to the resonant tunneling of charges from the electrically conductive AFM tip to the quantum dot, followed by transfer to the substrate, whereas off states are attributed to a Coulomb blockade effect in the quantum dots that shifts the energy levels out of resonance conditions due to the presence of the trapped charge, while at the same bias. The observation of current intermittency due to Coulomb blockade effects has important implications for the understanding of carrier transport through arrays of quantum dots.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2338-2345
Number of pages8
JournalNano Letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - 12 Jun 2013

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-58176


  • conductive atomic force microscopy
  • intermittent current
  • lead sulfide
  • nanocrystals
  • quantum dots
  • tuning fork atomic force microscopy


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