To the lengthy list of serendipitous discoveries gravity, penicillin, the New World add this: Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have discovered why a promising technique for making quantum dots and nanorods has so far been a disappointment. Better still, they've also discovered how to correct the problem.
A team of researchers led by chemist Paul Alivisatos, director of Berkeley Lab, and Prashant Jain, a chemist now with the University of Illinois, has discovered why nanocrystals made from multiple components in solution via the exchange of cations (positive ions) have been poor light emitters. The problem, they found, stems from impurities in the final product. The team also demonstrated that these impurities can be removed through heat.
"By heating these nanocrystals to 100 degrees Celsius, we were able to remove the impurities and increase their luminescence by 400-fold within 30 hours," says Jain, a member of Alivisatos' research group when this work was done. "When the impurities were removed the optoelectronic properties of nanocrystals made through cation-exchange were comparable in quality to dots and nanorods conventionally synthesized."
Says Alivisatos, "With our new findings, the cation-exchange technique really becomes a method that can be widely used to make novel high optoelectronic grade nanocrystals."
Jain is the lead author and Alivisatos the corresponding author of a paper describing this work in the journal Angewandte Chemie titled "Highly Luminescent Nanocrystals From Removal of Impurity Atoms Residual From Ion Exchange Synthesis." Other authors were Brandon Beberwyck, Lam-Kiu Fong and Mark Polking.
Quantum dots and nanorods are light-emitting semiconductor nanocrystals that have a broad range of applications, including bio-imaging, solar energy and display screen technologies. Typically, these nanocrystals are synth
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DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory