Photonic devices stand to benefit from the development of chromophores with tunable, precisely controlled spontaneous emission lifetimes. Here, we demonstrate a method to continuously tune the radiative emission lifetimes of a class of chromophores by varying the density of electronic states involved in the emission process. In particular, we examined the peculiar composition-dependent electronic structure of copper doped CdZnSe quantum dots. It is shown that the nature and density of electronic states involved with the emission process is a function of copper inclusion level, providing a very direct handle for controlling the spontaneous lifetimes. The spontaneous emission lifetimes are estimated by examining the ratios of emission lifetimes to absolute quantum yields and also measured directly by ultrafast luminescence upconversion experiments. We find excellent agreement between these classes of experiments. This scheme enables us to tune spontaneous emission lifetimes by three orders of magnitude from ∼15 ns to over ∼7 µs, which is unprecedented in existing lumophores.

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