Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Efficient and stable blue quantum dot light-emitting diode


The visualization of accurate colour information using quantum dots has been explored for decades, and commercial products employing environmentally friendly materials are currently available as backlights1. However, next-generation electroluminescent displays based on quantum dots require the development of an efficient and stable cadmium-free blue-light-emitting device, which has remained a challenge because of the inferior photophysical properties of blue-light-emitting materials2,3. Here we present the synthesis of ZnSe-based blue-light-emitting quantum dots with a quantum yield of unity. We found that hydrofluoric acid and zinc chloride additives are effective at enhancing luminescence efficiency by eliminating stacking faults in the ZnSe crystalline structure. In addition, chloride passivation through liquid or solid ligand exchange leads to slow radiative recombination, high thermal stability and efficient charge-transport properties. We constructed double quantum dot emitting layers with gradient chloride content in a light-emitting diode to facilitate hole transport, and the resulting device showed an efficiency at the theoretical limit, high brightness and long operational lifetime. We anticipate that our efficient and stable blue quantum dot light-emitting devices can facilitate the development of electroluminescent full-colour displays using quantum dots.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: Characterization of ZnTeSe/ZnSe/ZnS QDs.
Fig. 2: Chloride passivation of surface defects.
Fig. 3: Performance of QD-LEDs.
Fig. 4: Analysis of device characteristics.

Data availability

All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the paper and its Supplementary Information files.


  1. Jang, E., Kim, Y., Won, Y.-H., Jang, H. & Choi, S.-M. Environmentally friendly InP-based quantum dots for efficient wide color gamut displays. ACS Energy Lett. 5, 1316–1327 (2020).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Shirasaki, Y., Supran, G. J., Bawendi, M. G. & Bulović, V. Emergence of colloidal quantum-dot light-emitting technologies. Nat. Photon. 7, 13–23 (2013).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Dai, X., Deng, Y., Peng, X. & Jin, Y. Quantum-dot light-emitting diodes for large-area displays: towards the dawn of commercialization. Adv. Mater. 29, 1607022 (2017).

    Google Scholar 

  4. Colvin, V. L., Schlamp, M. C. & Alivisatos, A. P. Light-emitting diodes made from cadmium selenide nanocrystals and a semiconducting polymer. Nature 370, 354–357 (1994).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Dai, X. et al. Solution-processed, high-performance light-emitting diodes based on quantum dots. Nature 515, 96–99 (2014).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Li, X. et al. Quantum-dot light-emitting diodes for outdoor displays with high stability at high brightness. Adv. Opt. Mater. 8, 1901145 (2020).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Wang, L. et al. Blue quantum dot light-emitting diodes with high electroluminescent efficiency. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 9, 38755–38760 (2017).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Pu, C. et al. Electrochemically-stable ligands bridge the photoluminescence–electroluminescence gap of quantum dots. Nat. Commun. 11, 937 (2020).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  9. Yang, Y. et al. High-efficiency light-emitting devices based on quantum dots with tailored nanostructures. Nat. Photon. 9, 259–266 (2015).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Chen, S. et al. On the degradation mechanisms of quantum-dot light-emitting diodes. Nat. Commun. 10, 765 (2019).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  11. Won, Y.-H. et al. Highly efficient and stable InP/ZnSe/ZnS quantum dot light-emitting diodes. Nature 575, 634–638 (2019).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Shen, W. et al. Synthesis of highly fluorescent InP/ZnS small-core/thick-shell tetrahedral-shaped quantum dots for blue light-emitting diodes. J. Mater. Chem. C 5, 8243–8249 (2017).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Zhang, H. et al. High-brightness blue InP quantum dot-based electroluminescent devices: the role of shell thickness. J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 11, 960–967 (2020).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Lesnyak, V., Dubavik, A., Plotnikov, A., Gaponik, N. & Eychmüller, A. One-step aqueous synthesis of blue-emitting glutathione-capped ZnSe1−xTex alloyed nanocrystals. Chem. Commun. 46, 886–888 (2010).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Asano, H., Tsukuda, S., Kita, M., Fujimoto, S. & Omata, T. Colloidal Zn(Te,Se)/ZnS core/shell quantum dots exhibiting narrow-band and green photoluminescence. ACS Omega 3, 6703–6709 (2018).

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  16. Jang, E.-P. et al. Synthesis of alloyed ZnSeTe quantum dots as bright, color-pure blue emitters. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 11, 46062–46069 (2019).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. Han, C.-Y. et al. More than 9% efficient ZnSeTe quantum dot-based blue electroluminescent devices. ACS Energy Lett. 5, 1568–1576 (2020).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Orfield, N. J., McBride, J. R., Keene, J. D., Davis, L. M. & Rosenthal, S. J. Correlation of atomic structure and photoluminescence of the same quantum dot: pinpointing surface and internal defects that inhibit photoluminescence. ACS Nano 9, 831–839 (2015).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Zhang, L., Lin, Z., Luo, J.-W. & Franceschetti, A. The birth of a type-II nanostructure: carrier localization and optical properties of isoelectronically doped CdSe:Te nanocrystals. ACS Nano 6, 8325–8334 (2012).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Avidan, A. & Oron, D. Large blue shift of the biexciton state in tellurium doped cdse colloidal quantum dots. Nano Lett. 8, 2384–2387 (2008).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Brittman, S. et al. Effects of a lead chloride shell on lead sulfide quantum dots. J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 10, 1914–1918 (2019).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Zherebetskyy, D. et al. Hydroxylation of the surface of PbS nanocrystals passivated with oleic acid. Science 344, 1380–1384 (2014).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Ip, A. H. et al. Hybrid passivated colloidal quantum dot solids. Nat. Nanotechnol. 7, 577–582 (2012).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Bae, W. K. et al. Highly effective surface passivation of pbse quantum dots through reaction with molecular chlorine. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 134, 20160–20168 (2012).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Tang, J. et al. Colloidal-quantum-dot photovoltaics using atomic-ligand passivation. Nat. Mater. 10, 765–771 (2011).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Zhang, H., Jang, J., Liu, W. & Talapin, D. V. Colloidal nanocrystals with inorganic halide, pseudohalide, and halometallate ligands. ACS Nano 8, 7359–7369 (2014).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. Shen, H. et al. High-efficiency, low turn-on voltage blue-violet quantum-dot-based light-emitting diodes. Nano Lett. 15, 1211–1216 (2015).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. Li, X. et al. Bright colloidal quantum dot light-emitting diodes enabled by efficient chlorination. Nat. Photon. 12, 159–164 (2018).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. Takahashi, J. & Naito, H. Visualization of the carrier transport dynamics in layered organic light emitting diodes by modulus spectroscopy. Org. Electron. 61, 10–17 (2018).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. Okachi, T., Nagase, T., Kobayashi, T. & Naito, H. Equivalent circuits of polymer light-emitting diodes with hole-injection layer studied by impedance spectroscopy. Thin Solid Films 517, 1327–1330 (2008).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  31. Qian, L., Zheng, Y., Xue, J. & Holloway, P. H. Stable and efficient quantum-dot light-emitting diodes based on solution-processed multilayer structures. Nat. Photon. 5, 543–548 (2011).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  32. Cohen, M. L. Pseudopotentials and total energy calculations. Phys. Scr. T1, 5–10 (1982).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  33. Perdew, J. P., Burke, K. & Ernzerhof, M. Generalized gradient approximation made simple. Phys. Rev. Lett. 77, 3865–3868 (1996).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. Kresse, G. & Hafner, J. Ab initio molecular-dynamics simulation of the liquid-metal–amorphous-semiconductor transition in germanium. Phys. Rev. B 49, 14251–14269 (1994).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  35. Heyd, J., Scuseria, G. E. & Ernzerhof, M. Hybrid functionals based on a screened Coulomb potential. J. Chem. Phys. 118, 8207–8215 (2003).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  36. Kim, S. et al. Efficient blue-light-emitting Cd-free colloidal quantum well and its application in electroluminescent devices. Chem. Mater. 32, 5200–5207 (2020).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  37. Asano, H. & Omata, T. Design of cadmium-free colloidal II–VI semiconductor quantum dots exhibiting RGB emission. AIP Adv. 7, 045309 (2017).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  38. Faschinger, W., Ferreira, S. & Sitter, H. Doping of zinc-selenide-telluride. Appl. Phys. Lett. 64, 2682–2684 (1994).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  39. Li, Y.-H. et al. Revised ab initio natural band offsets of all group IV, II–VI, and III–V semiconductors. Appl. Phys. Lett. 94, 212109 (2009).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  40. Kwak, J. et al. Bright and efficient full-color colloidal quantum dot light-emitting diodes using an inverted device structure. Nano Lett. 12, 2362–2366 (2012).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  41. Lee, K.-H. et al. Highly efficient, color-pure, color-stable blue quantum dot light-emitting devices. ACS Nano 7, 7295–7302 (2013).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  42. Shen, H. et al. Efficient and long-lifetime full-color light-emitting diodes using high luminescence quantum yield thick-shell quantum dots. Nanoscale 9, 13583–13591 (2017).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  43. Lin, Q. et al. Nonblinking quantum-dot-based blue light-emitting diodes with high efficiency and a balanced charge-injection process. ACS Photonics 5, 939–946 (2018).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  44. Wang, O. et al. High-efficiency, deep blue ZnCdS/CdxZn1−xS/ZnS quantum-dot-light-emitting devices with an EQE exceeding 18%. Nanoscale 10, 5650–5657 (2018).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  45. Shen, H. et al. Visible quantum dot light-emitting diodes with simultaneous high brightness and efficiency. Nat. Photon. 13, 192–197 (2019).

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  46. Shen, H. et al. Phosphine-free synthesis of high quality ZnSe, ZnSe/ZnS, and Cu-, Mn-doped ZnSe nanocrystals. Dalt. Trans. 47, 10534–10540 (2009).

    Google Scholar 

  47. Ji, W. et al. High color purity ZnSe/ZnS core/shell quantum dot based blue light emitting diodes with an inverted device structure. Appl. Phys. Lett. 103, 053106 (2013).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  48. Ippen, C. et al. ZnSe/ZnS quantum dots as emitting material in blue QD-LEDs with narrow emission peak and wavelength tunability. Org. Electron. 15, 126–131 (2014).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  49. Lin, Q. et al. Cadmium-free quantum dots based violet light-emitting diodes: high-efficiency and brightness via optimization of organic hole transport layers. Org. Electron. 25, 178–183 (2015).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  50. Wang, A. et al. Bright, efficient, and color-stable violet ZnSe-based quantum dot light-emitting diodes. Nanoscale 7, 2951–2959 (2015).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  51. Ji, B., Koley, S., Slobodkin, I., Remennik, S. & Banin, U. ZnSe/ZnS core/shell quantum dots with superior optical properties through thermodynamic shell growth. Nano Lett. 20, 2387–2395 (2020).

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

Download references


We thank H. Kim in RIAM of SNU for the TEM analysis and H. Jung for the photospectroscopic measurements.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



The synthesis and structural analysis of QDs were performed by T.K., H.J. and S.K. The chloride exchange and analysis were performed by T.K. and K.-H.K. The QD-LEDs were fabricated and characterized by K.-H.K., H.-K.S., H.L., D.-Y.C. and T.K. The modelling was performed by S.-M.C. This research was designed and coordinated by E.J. The manuscript was written by T.K. and E.J. in consultation with all authors.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Eunjoo Jang.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Peer review information Nature thanks the anonymous reviewers for their contribution to the peer review of this work. Peer reviewer reports are available.

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Extended data figures and tables

Extended Data Fig. 1 Characterization of core, C/S and C/S/S QDs.

a, Particle-size distributions of core, C/S and C/S/S QDs, determined from the respective STEM images in Fig. 1. b, Elemental mapping of C/S/S QDs obtained by STEM-EDX. c, XRD patterns of core, C/S and C/S/S QDs, together with the reference zinc blende structure of ZnSe (X-ray diffraction pattern PDF 00-037-1463) and ZnS (PDF 00-005-0566). df, Contour maps of the calculated emission wavelength of ZnTeSe/ZnSe/ZnS (with a fixed ZnS thickness of 1.2 nm) as a function of ZnTexSe1−x core size and ZnSe shell thickness for x = 0 (d), x = 0.033 (e) and x = 0.067 (f). The star in f corresponds to the C/S/S QD shown in Fig. 1.

Extended Data Fig. 2 Effect of HF and ZnCl2 additives on structure and optical properties.

a, SAED and XRD patterns of ZnTeSe/ZnSe/ZnS C/S/S QDs prepared without any additives (left), with HF only (middle) and with ZnCl2 only (right). The red, yellow and green dashed lines indicate stacking faults assigned to 26°, 29° and 50°, respectively. b, STEM images (white scale bar, 20 nm). Inset, high-resolution TEM images (yellow scale bar, 2 nm), c, d, Absorption and photoluminescence spectra (c) and TR-PL profiles (d) of ZnTeSe/ZnSe/ZnS C/S/S QDs prepared without any additive (‘None’), with HF only and with ZnCl2 only. Average decay lifetimes fitted with a multi-component exponential function are indicated. e, f, Absorption and photoluminescence spectra (e) and TR-PL profiles (f) of ZnTexSe1−x/ZnSe/ZnS C/S/S QDs with x = 0, 0.033, 0.067 and 0.1. g, Schematic energy level diagram of radiative and non-radiative transition pathways. CB, conductance band; VB, valence band.

Extended Data Fig. 3 Effect of chloride passivation on physical properties.

a, TR-PL spectra and average decay lifetimes of solutions of core, C/S, C/S/S and C/S/S-Cl(l) QDs (excitation at 405 nm, measured at each emission peak). b, c, Photoluminescence spectra (b) and TR-PL spectra and average decay lifetimes (c) of films of C/S/S, C/S/S-Cl(l) and C/S/S-Cl(f) QDs. d, TGA curves of C/S/S, C/S/S-Cl(l) and C/S/S-Cl(l) aggregates. The shaded area indicates the weight loss of OA ligands. e, FT-IR spectra of films prepared with C/S/S, C/S/S-Cl(l) and C/S/S-Cl(f) QDs. Inset, magnification of the spectra showing asymmetric (v1) and symmetric (v2) vibrations of the carboxylate group with aliphatic stretching (v3). The wavenumber difference between v1 and v2 is indicated (145 cm−1) to explain the binding mode of oleate corresponding to briging bidentate. fh, Size of QDs dispersed in octane and measured with DLS: C/S/S (f), C/S/S-Cl(l) (g) and C/S/S-Cl(l) (h) aggregates. il, High-resolution XPS spectra of elements in C/S/S, C/S/S-Cl(l) and C/S/S-Cl (f): zinc 2p3 (i), selenium 3d (j), sulfur 2p (k) and chlorine 2p (l).

Extended Data Fig. 4 Dependence of ligand binding energy on ZnS surface.

a, Calculated binding energy of Ac and Cl with Zn atoms on a ZnS (100) surface as a function of ligand density. b, Optimized structures of Ac and Cl on ZnS (100) surfaces for each composition.

Extended Data Fig. 5 Analysis of chlorinated films and resulting devices.

a, Photoelectron spectroscopy data for C/S/S, C/S/S-Cl(l), C/S/S-Cl(f) and OA films. The corresponding ionization potentials are indicated. b, Energy-band diagrams of QD-LEDs with C/S/S-OA (left) and double EMLs (right). ce, SEM images of QD films prepared with C/S/S (c), C/S/S-Cl(f) (d) and a double layer consisting of C/S/S-Cl(f) (bottom layer) and C/S/S-Cl(l) (top layer) (e). Insets, dot-to-dot distances between QDs for C/S/S and C/S/S-Cl(f) (the average distances are 14.1 ± 1.2 nm and 13.7 ± 1.2 nm, respectively). f, Cross-sectional TEM image used for EDX elemental analysis of the QD-LED with a double EML of C/S/S-Cl(l) over C/S/S-Cl(f). g, Elemental composition at each probed position in e.

Extended Data Fig. 6 Statistics of device performance.

a, b, Distributions of maximum EQE (a) and maximum brightness (b) obtained from 90 QD-LEDs with double EML. c, Operational lifetimes of QD-LEDs with a double EML consisting of C/S/S-Cl(l) over C/S/S-Cl(f) for different initial brightness values. d, Measured lifetime (T50) of the devices versus brightness. The T50 value at 100 cd m−2 was estimated by fitting with the empirical equation \({L}_{0}^{n}\times {T}_{50}={\rm{constant}}\), where L0 is the initial brightness and n is the acceleration factor.

Extended Data Fig. 7 Characterization of single-carrier devices.

af, Current density–voltage characteristics and mobilities calculated from the fitting curves using the space charge-limited current model (SCLC) for HODs with C/S/S, C/S/S-Cl(l) and C/S/S-Cl(f) QDs (a–c) and EODs with C/S/S, C/S/S-Cl(l) and C/S/S-Cl(f) QDs (d–f). g, h, Mott–Schottky analysis of HODs (g) and EODs (h) with no QDs and with C/S/S, C/S/S-Cl(l) and C/S/S-Cl(f) QDs.

Extended Data Fig. 8 Analysis of double-EML devices.

ac, Voltage-dependent electroluminescence spectra of QD-LEDs with double EML, consisting of a C/S/S top layer with red-emitting InP/ZnSe/ZnS QDs and different bottom EMLs: C/S/S (a), C/S/S-Cl(l) (b) and C/S/S-Cl(f) (c). The insets show electroluminescence spectra at low voltages. d, Complex modulus spectra measured at various voltages before and after the T50 lifetime test for QD-LEDs with C/S/S-Cl(f). The real (horizontal axis) and imaginary (vertical axis) moduli were calculated using the equation M = iωZ, where i is the imaginary unit, ω is the frequency and Z is the complex impedance29. The grey arrow shows the direction of increasing frequency.

Extended Data Table 1 Quantitative analysis of surface ligands
Extended Data Table 2 Comparison of state-of-the-art blue QDs and blue QD-LEDs reported in the literature with those described here

Supplementary information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kim, T., Kim, KH., Kim, S. et al. Efficient and stable blue quantum dot light-emitting diode. Nature 586, 385–389 (2020).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing