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Solvent-Triggered Self-Assembly of CdTe Quantum Dots into Flat Ribbons

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journal contribution
posted on 24.10.2013, 00:00 by Feng Jiang, Anthony J. Muscat
Diluting an aqueous colloid containing purified CdTe quantum dots (QD) by injecting into common organic solvents triggered self-assembly into a variety of structures. Nanoribbons formed in methanol with aspect ratios near 1000 containing discrete dots lacking a packing order. The flat ribbons were 30–90 nm (8–22 QDs) wide based on AFM and TEM, about 8–18 nm (2–5 QDs) high based on AFM, and 0.5–10 μm long based on SEM. Passivation of defect sites, likely by S, enhanced the photoluminescence of the ribbons relative to the raw QDs. Multibranched clusters containing fused dots formed in IPA as well as ribbons with pendent nodules. The photoluminescence of the assortment was attenuated compared to the raw QDs. Injecting into acetone not only yielded ribbons and clusters but also dissolved the dots over a period of 20 days, forming flower-like assemblies whose petals consisted of bundles of CdS wires. Diluting in solvents with lower dielectric constants than water initially aggregated the dots by reducing the electrostatic screening between the negatively charged thioglycolic acid (TGA) ligand layers. The solubility of TGA in the solvents determined the superstructure that formed. Extracting the smallest portion of this layer in methanol promoted vectorial growth into ribbons consistent with dipole–dipole attractive and charge–charge repulsive interactions. Removing more of the TGA layer in IPA caused the dots to fuse into webs containing clustered ribbons and branches, and the directional nature of the superstructure was lost. Completely deprotecting the surface in acetone promoted photoetching and dissolved the dots. Control of the ligand surface density by means of the solubility adds another method to direct spontaneous self-organization of QDs.