Disorder and Confinement Effects to Tune the Optical Properties of Amino Acid Doped Cu2O Crystals

Mariam Kurashvili, Iryna Polishchuk, Arad Lang, Simone Strohmair, Alexander F. Richter, Sebastian Rieger, Tushar Debnath, Boaz Pokroy, Jochen Feldmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biominerals are organic–inorganic nanocomposites exhibiting remarkable properties due to their unique configuration. Using optical spectroscopy and theoretical modeling, it is shown that the optical properties of a model bioinspired system, an inorganic semiconductor host (Cu2O) grown in the presence of amino acids (AAs), are strongly influenced by the latter. The absorption and photoluminescence excitation spectra of Cu2O-AAs blue-shift with growing AA content, indicating band gap widening. This is attributed to the void-induced quantum confinement effects. Surprisingly, no such shift occurs in the emission spectra. The theoretical model, assuming an inhomogeneous AA distribution within Cu2O-AAs due to compositional disorder, explains the deviating behavior of the photoluminescence. The model predicts that the potential causing the confinement effects becomes a function of the local AA density. It results in a Gaussian band gap distribution that shapes the optical properties of Cu2O-AAs. Imitating and harnessing the process of biomineralization can pave the way toward new functional materials.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2202121
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number27
StatePublished - 4 Jul 2022


  • amino acid doped Cu O
  • bandgap distribution
  • disorder
  • optical properties
  • quantum confinement

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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