Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bright Lights of Purity

31.01.2012
Berkeley Lab Researchers Discover Why Pure Quantum Dots and Nanorods Shine Brighter
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 synthesized from colloids – particles suspended in solution. As an alternative, Alivisatos and his research group developed a new solution-based synthesis technique in which nanocrystals are chemically transformed by exchanging or replacing all of the cations in the crystal lattice with another type of cation. This cation-exchange technique makes it possible to produce new types of core/shell nanocrystals that are inaccessible through conventional synthesis. Core/shell nanocrystals are heterostructures in which one type of semiconductor is enclosed within another, for example, a cadmium selenide (CdSe) core and a cadmium sulfide (CdS) shell.

“While holding promise for the simple and inexpensive fabrication of multicomponent nanocrystals, the cation-exchange technique has yielded quantum dots and nanorods that perform poorly in optical and electronic devices,” says Alivisatos, a world authority on nanocrystal synthesis who holds a joint appointment with the University of California (UC) Berkeley, where he is the Larry and Diane Bock professor of Nanotechnology.

As Jain tells the story, he was in the process of disposing of CdSe/CdS nanocrystals in solution that were six months old when out of habit he tested the nanocrystals under ultraviolet light. To his surprise he observed significant luminescence. Subsequent spectral measurements and comparing the new data to the old showed that the luminescence of the nanocrystals had increased by at least sevenfold.

“It was an accidental finding and very exciting,” Jain says, “but since no one wants to wait six months for their samples to become high quality I decided to heat the nanocrystals to speed up whatever process was causing their luminescence to increase.”

Jain and the team suspected and subsequent study confirmed that impurities – original cations that end up being left behind in the crystal lattice during the exchange process – were the culprit.

“Even a few cation impurities in a nanocrystal are enough to be effective at trapping useful, energetic charge-carriers,” Jain says. “In most quantum dots or nanorods, charge-carriers are delocalized over the entire nanocrystal, making it easy for them to find impurities, no matter how few there might be, within the nanocrystal. By heating the solution to remove these impurities and shut off this impurity-mediated trapping, we give the charge-carriers enough time to radiatively combine and thereby boost luminescence.”

Since charge-carriers are also instrumental in electronic transport, photovoltaic performance, and photocatalytic processes, Jain says that shutting off impurity-mediated trapping should also boost these optoelectronic properties in nanocrystals synthesized via the cation-exchange technique.

This research was supported by the DOE Office of Science.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. For more, visit www.lbl.gov.

Additional Information

For more information about the research of Paul Alivisatos, visit the Website at http://www.cchem.berkeley.edu/pagrp/

For more information about the research of Prashant Jain, visit the Website at http://www.nanogold.org/

Lynn Yarris | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.lbl.gov

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht UNH researchers create a more effective hydrogel for healing wounds
21.11.2018 | University of New Hampshire

nachricht Removing toxic mercury from contaminated water
21.11.2018 | Chalmers University of Technology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First diode for magnetic fields

Innsbruck quantum physicists have constructed a diode for magnetic fields and then tested it in the laboratory. The device, developed by the research groups led by the theorist Oriol Romero-Isart and the experimental physicist Gerhard Kirchmair, could open up a number of new applications.

Electric diodes are essential electronic components that conduct electricity in one direction but prevent conduction in the opposite one. They are found at the...

Im Focus: Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.

Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Removing toxic mercury from contaminated water

21.11.2018 | Life Sciences

New China and US studies back use of pulse oximeters for assessing blood pressure

21.11.2018 | Medical Engineering

Exoplanet stepping stones

21.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>