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Issue 11, 2011
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A miniemulsion polymerization technique for encapsulation of silicon quantum dots in polymer nanoparticles

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Abstract

Miniemulsion polymerization techniques were used to encapsulate luminescent alkylated silicon quantum dots (Si-QDs) within polymer nanoparticles composed of styrene and 4-vinylbenzaldehyde monomers. The polymer nanoparticles had mean diameters in the range 90–150 nm depending on the reaction conditions, however all samples showed narrow particle size distributions, as determined by dynamic light scattering and atomic force microscopy. The Si-QDs were found to have a small, but beneficial effect on the polymerization process by reducing the polydispersity of the final polymer particles, which we attribute to co-surfactant action of the undecene used to form the alkyl capping layer on the Si-QDs. Confocal microspectroscopy was used to confirm that the luminescent alkylated Si-QDs were encapsulated within the polymer nanoparticles and also provided luminescence and Raman spectra which show peaks corresponding to both alkylated Si-QDs and the polymer nanoparticles. Treatment of the polymer nanoparticles with dilute aqueous sodium hydroxide solution, which is known to corrode Si and extinguish the luminescence of alkylated Si-QDs, results in only a partial reduction in luminescence suggesting that the majority of the alkylated Si-QDs are encapsulated sufficiently deep within the polymer matrix to protect them from alkaline attack. Miniemulsion polymerization of the monomers styrene and 4-vinylbenzaldehyde affords polymer nanoparticles displaying reactive aldehyde groups upon their surfaces, which could then be decorated with a selection of molecules through imine, oxime or hydrazone condensation reactions. We speculate that polymer–SiQD composite nanoparticles whose surfaces can be further decorated will increase the utility of luminescent Si-QDs in applications such as anti-counterfeiting and as probes of biological processes.

Graphical abstract: A miniemulsion polymerization technique for encapsulation of silicon quantum dots in polymer nanoparticles

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Publication details

The article was received on 26 Jul 2011, accepted on 04 Sep 2011 and first published on 10 Oct 2011


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C1NR10938C
Citation: Nanoscale, 2011,3, 4733-4741
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    A miniemulsion polymerization technique for encapsulation of silicon quantum dots in polymer nanoparticles

    N. A. Harun, B. R. Horrocks and D. A. Fulton, Nanoscale, 2011, 3, 4733
    DOI: 10.1039/C1NR10938C

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