From Artificial Atoms to Nanocrystal Molecules: Preparation and Properties of More Complex Nanostructures
Quantum dots, which have found widespread use in fields such as biomedicine, photovoltaics, and electronics, are often called artificial atoms due to their size-dependent physical properties. Here this analogy is extended to consider artificial nanocrystal molecules, formed from well-defined groupings of plasmonically or electronically coupled single nanocrystals. Just as a hydrogen molecule has properties distinct from two uncoupled hydrogen atoms, a key feature of nanocrystal molecules is that they exhibit properties altered from those of the component nanoparticles due to coupling. The nature of the coupling between nanocrystal atoms and its response to vibrations and deformations of the nanocrystal molecule bonds are of particular interest. We discuss synthetic approaches, predicted and observed physical properties, and prospects and challenges toward this new class of materials.