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Issue 44, 2010
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Self-selective recovery of photoluminescence in amphiphilic polymer encapsulated PbS quantum dots

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Abstract

Self-selected recovery of the photoluminescence (PL) of amphiphilic polymer encapsulated PbS quantum dots (QDs) was observed in water for the first time and possible mechanisms were proposed based on investigations by means of transmission electron microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), X-ray diffraction and fluorescence spectroscopy. Water-soluble PbS QDs were synthesized by transferring monodispersed QDs capped with hydrophobic ligands of oleylamine from an organic solvent into water via amphiphilic polymers poly(maleic anhydride-alt-1-octadecene-co-poly(ethylene glycol)). The water transfer process leads to a double size distribution (5.6 ± 0.9 nm and 2.7 ± 0.4 nm), attributed to ligand etching together with Ostwald ripening, as well as the fast decay of PL. The automatic recovery of the PL in PbS QDs stored in water in the dark for 3 months was only observed for the subset of smaller QDs and is largely due to the removal of surface defects with aging, as evidenced by the decreased percentage of unpassivated surface atoms from XPS studies. In contrast, the PL of the subset of larger QDs in the same sample does not self-recover in water and can only be slightly recovered by transferring them into environments with less external quenches. The results strongly suggest that it is the surface defect in the larger QDs themselves, introduced during Ostwald ripening, that is primarily responsible for their non-emitting status or rather low PL intensity under different conditions. The increase of unpassivated Pb atoms in larger PbS QDs after the 3 month aging has been confirmed by XPS, which explains their non-recovery behavior in water. The PL-recovered QD sample in water is very stable and shows comparable photostability to the initial QDs dispersed in an organic phase.

Graphical abstract: Self-selective recovery of photoluminescence in amphiphilic polymer encapsulated PbS quantum dots

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Publication details

The article was received on 23 Jul 2010, accepted on 17 Sep 2010 and first published on 14 Oct 2010


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C0CP01305F
Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2010,12, 14754-14761

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    Self-selective recovery of photoluminescence in amphiphilic polymer encapsulated PbS quantum dots

    H. Zhao, M. Chaker and D. Ma, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2010, 12, 14754
    DOI: 10.1039/C0CP01305F

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