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Direct Three-Dimensional Observation of Core/Shell-Structured Quantum Dots with a Composition-Competitive Gradient

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journal contribution
posted on 26.11.2018, 00:00 by Byeong Gyu Chae, Jun Ho Lee, Seongyong Park, Eunha Lee, Chang Min Kwak, Majid Jafari, Young Kyu Jeong, Chan Gyung Park, Jae Bok Seol
Synthesizing semiconductor nanoparticles through core/shell structuring is an effective strategy to promote the functional, physical, and kinetic performance of optoelectronic materials. However, elucidating the internal structure and related atomic distribution of core/shell structured quantum dots (QDs) in three dimensions, particularly at heterostructure interfaces, has been an overarching challenge. Herein, by applying complementary analytical techniques of electron microscopy and atom probe tomography, the dimensional, structural, topological, and compositional information on commercially available 11.8 nm-sized CdSSe/ZnS QDs were obtained. Systematic experiments at high resolution reveal the presence of a 1.8 nm-thick CdxZn1xS inner shell with a composition gradient between the CdSe core and the ZnS outermost shell. More strikingly, the inner shell shows compositional variation because of competitive atomic configuration between Cd and ZnS, but it structurally retains a zinc-blende crystal structure with the core. The inner shell may grow through the decreased reactivity of S with Cd, followed by atomic diffusion-related processes. The composition-competitive gradient inner shell alleviates lattice misfit strain at heterostructure interfaces, thereby enhancing the quantum yield and photostabilty to a greater extent than those of other single-shell structures. Thus, this precise measurement approach could offer a potential pathway to develop a wide variety of three-dimensional core/shell-structured materials.