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Cation Exchange Reactions for Improved Quality and Diversity of Semiconductor Nanocrystals

  • Author(s): Beberwyck, Brandon James
  • Advisor(s): Alivisatos, Paul
  • et al.
Abstract

Observing the size and shape dependent physical properties of semiconductor nanocrystals requires synthetic methods capable of not only composition and crystalline phase control but also molecular scale uniformity for a particle consisting of tens to hundreds of thousands of atoms. The desire for synthetic methods that produce uniform nanocrystals of complex morphologies continues to increase as nanocrystals find roles in commercial applications, such as biolabeling and display technologies, that are simultaneously restricting material compositions. With these constraints, new synthetic strategies that decouple the nanocrystal's chemical composition from its morphology are necessary.

This dissertation explores the cation exchange reaction of colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals, a template-based chemical transformation that enables the interconversion of nanocrystals between a variety of compositions while maintaining their size dispersity and morphology. Chapter 1 provides an introduction to the versatility of this replacement reaction as a synthetic method for semiconductor nanocrystals. An overview of the fundamentals of the cation exchange reaction and the diversity of products that are achievable is presented. Chapter 2 examines the optical properties of nanocrystal heterostructures produced through cation exchange reactions. The deleterious impact of exchange on the photoluminescence is correlated to residual impurities and a simple annealing protocol is demonstrated to achieve photoluminescence yields comparable to samples produced by conventional methods. Chapter 3 investigates the extension of the cation exchange reaction beyond ionic nanocrystals. Covalent III-V nanocrystal of high crystallinity and low size dispersity are synthesized by the cation exchange of cadmium pnictide nanocrystals with group 13 ions. Lastly, Chapter 4 highlights future studies to probe cation exchange reactions in colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals and progress that needs to be made for its adoption as a routine synthetic approach.

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