Heavy-metal-containing quantum dots (QDs) with engineered electronic states have been served as luminophores in luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) with impressive optical efficiency. Unfortunately, those QDs involve toxic elements and need to be synthesized in a hazardous solvent. Recently, biocompatible, eco-friendly gold nanoclusters (AuNCs), which can be directly synthesized in an aqueous solution, have gained much attention for promising applications in 'green photonics'. Here, we explored the solid-state photophysical properties of aqueous-solution-processed, glutathione-stabilized gold nanoclusters (GSH-AuNCs) with a ligand-to-metal charge-transfer (LMCT) state for developing 'green' LSCs. We found that such GSH-AuNCs exhibit a large Stokes shift with almost no spectral overlap between the optical absorption and PL emission due to the LMCT states, thus, suppressing reabsorption losses. Compared with GSH-AuNCs in solution, the photoluminescence quantum yields (PL-QYs) of the LSCs can be enhanced, accompanied with a lengthened PL lifetime owing to the suppression of non-radiative recombination rates. In addition, the LSCs do not suffer from severe concentration-induced PL quenching, which is a common weakness for conventional luminophores. As a result, a common trade-off between light-harvesting efficiency and solid-state PL-QYs can be bypassed due to nearly-zero spectral overlap integral between the optical absorption and PL emission. We expect that GSH-AuNCs hold great promise for serving as luminophores for 'green' LSCs by further enhancing solid-state PL-QYs.
- aggregation-induced quenching
- gold nanoclusters
- lignd-to-metal charge transfer state
- luminescent solar concentrators
- reabsorption losses