Quantum Dots/Semiconducting Nanocrystals: Optical Applications, 14-R9512

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Principal Investigators
Ralph H. Hill Jr.
Cliff J. Scribner

Inclusive Dates:  10/01/04 – 10/01/06

Background - During the last decade or so, there has been great progress in nanotechnology, especially in the field of quantum dots (QDs). Also known as semiconductor nanocrystals, artificial atoms, and so on, their composition and small size (a few thousand atoms) give them extraordinary optical properties, which can be customized by changing the size or composition or both of the dots. These interesting properties are brought about from the "quantum confinement" of the electron-hole pairs. Their optical characteristics are different from standard organic dyes and therefore may have new uses.

Approach - The approach was to gain hands-on experience in the field of QDs, specifically in the various types of QDs. Commercially available QDs were utilized for most of the project; however, some preliminary work on synthesis was also done in SwRI laboratories.

Accomplishments - This project was successful in that we gained experience in handling the various types of QDs that were commercially supplied in several different formats, such as dispersed in bulk polymers, in thin films, or suspended in organic solvents. We have successfully synthesized lead-sulfide QDs in-house; a follow-on internal research project has been funded to continue the synthesis work. (Refer to Project 14-R9643, with Dr. Jonathan Schulze as the principal investigator.) The environmental impact of QDs was investigated in the literature, and this information is valuable for future applications. In particular, we presently feel that projects using aerosolized or loose QDs are undesirable because of the unknown effects they may have on man and the environment because of their extremely small size and composition containing heavy metal atoms. However, we are comfortable with utilizing QDs embedded in polymer matrices and similar arrangements.

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