Room-temperature solution-phase epitaxial nucleation of PbS quantum dots on rutile TiO2 (100)†
Owing to its simplicity and versatility, the successive ionic layer adsorption and reaction (SILAR) method is increasingly being employed to develop low-cost hetero-nanostructured sensitized oxide systems for solar energy conversion, such as solar cells and solar fuels schemes. Understanding the nature of the SILAR quantum dot (QD) nucleation and growth on an insulating oxide is then critical as it will determine the QD density and spatial distribution, as well as the optoelectronic properties of the QD/oxide interfaces (e.g. QD bandgap onset). Here, we demonstrate epitaxial nucleation of lead sulfide (PbS) QDs onto a planar rutile titanium dioxide (100) surface employing the SILAR method. The QDs nucleated by SILAR are crystalline structures characterized by a truncated pyramidal shape, with nucleation occurring preferentially along the rutile (010) and (001) crystal orientations. The PbS QD size distribution is constrained by lattice mismatch causing strain in the lead sulfide. These results highlight the potential of SILAR for the facile growth of high-quality epitaxial nanostructures in liquid phase, under ambient conditions and at room temperature.