The quantum-confined Stark effect in single cadmium selenide (CdSe) nanocrystallite quantum dots was studied. The electric field dependence of the single-dot spectrum is characterized by a highly polarizable excited state ( approximately 10(5) cubic angstroms, compared to typical molecular values of order 10 to 100 cubic angstroms), in the presence of randomly oriented local electric fields that change over time. These local fields result in spontaneous spectral diffusion and contribute to ensemble inhomogeneous broadening. Stark shifts of the lowest excited state more than two orders of magnitude larger than the linewidth were observed, suggesting the potential use of these dots in electro-optic modulation devices.
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