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Utilizing the Lability of Lead Selenide to Produce Heterostructured Nanocrystals with Bright, Stable Infrared Emission

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journal contribution
posted on 09.04.2008 by Jeffrey M. Pietryga, Donald J. Werder, Darrick J. Williams, Joanna L. Casson, Richard D. Schaller, Victor I. Klimov, Jennifer A. Hollingsworth
Infrared-emitting nanocrystal quantum dots (NQDs) have enormous potential as an enabling technology for applications ranging from tunable infrared lasers to biological labels. Notably, lead chalcogenide NQDs, especially PbSe NQDs, provide efficient emission over a large spectral range in the infrared, but their application has been limited by instability in emission quantum yield and peak position on exposure to ambient conditions. Conventional methods for improving NQD stability by applying a shell of a more stable, wider band gap semiconductor material are frustrated by the tendency of lead chalcogenide NQDs toward Ostwald ripening at even moderate reaction temperatures. Here, we describe a partial cation-exchange method in which we take advantage of this lability to controllably synthesize PbSe/CdSe core/shell NQDs. Critically, these NQDs are stable against fading and spectral shifting. Further, these NQDs can undergo additional shell growth to produce PbSe/CdSe/ZnS core/shell/shell NQDs that represent initial steps toward bright, biocompatible near-infrared optical labels.