Template-directed self-organization of colloidal PbTe nanocrystals into pillars, conformal coatings, and self-supported membranes
We demonstrate the formation of three morphologies relevant for integration with miniaturized devices—microscale pillars, conformal coatings, and self-supported membranes—via template-directed self-organization of lead telluride (PbTe) colloidal nanocrystals (NCs). Optimizing the self-organization process towards producing one of these morphologies typically involves adjusting the surface chemistry of the particles, as a means of controlling the particle–particle and particle–template interactions. In contrast, we have produced each of the three morphologies of close-packed NCs by adjusting only the solvent and concentration of NCs, to ensure that the high quality of the ca. 10 nm PbTe NCs produced by hot-injection colloidal synthesis, which we used as model “building blocks,” remains consistent across all three configurations. For the first two morphologies, the NCs were deposited as colloidal suspensions onto micropatterned silicon substrates. The microscale cuboid pillars (1 μm × 1 μm × 0.6 μm) were formed by depositing NC dispersions in toluene onto templates patterned with resist grid motifs, followed by the resist removal after the slow evaporation of toluene and formation of the micropillars. Conformal coatings were produced by switching the solvent from toluene to a faster drying hexane and pouring NC dispersions onto silicon templates with topographically patterned microstructures. In a similar process, self-supported NC membranes were formed from NC dispersions in hexane on the surface of diethylene glycol and transferred onto the micropatterned templates. The demonstrated combination of bottom-up self-organization with top-down micropatterned templates provides a scalable route for design and fabrication of NC ensembles in morphologies and form-factors that are compatible with their integration into miniaturized devices.