Open Access Nano Express

Rational design of the gram-scale synthesis of nearly monodisperse semiconductor nanocrystals

Myriam Protière12, Nicolas Nerambourg1, Olivier Renard2 and Peter Reiss1*

Author Affiliations

1 DSM/INAC/SPrAM (UMR 5819 CEA-CNRS-UJF)/LEMOH, CEA-Grenoble - 17 rue des Martyrs - 38054 Grenoble cedex 9, France

2 DRT/LITEN/DTNM/LCSN, CEA-Grenoble - 17 rue des Martyrs - 38054 Grenoble cedex 9 France

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:472  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-472

Published: 26 July 2011


We address two aspects of general interest for the chemical synthesis of colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals: (1) the rational design of the synthesis protocol aiming at the optimization of the reaction parameters in a minimum number of experiments; (2) the transfer of the procedure to the gram scale, while maintaining a low size distribution and maximizing the reaction yield. Concerning the first point, the design-of-experiment (DOE) method has been applied to the synthesis of colloidal CdSe nanocrystals. We demonstrate that 16 experiments, analyzed by means of a Taguchi L16 table, are sufficient to optimize the reaction parameters for controlling the mean size of the nanocrystals in a large range while keeping the size distribution narrow (5-10%). The DOE method strongly reduces the number of experiments necessary for the optimization as compared to trial-and-error approaches. Furthermore, the Taguchi table analysis reveals the degree of influence of each reaction parameter investigated (e.g., the nature and concentration of reagents, the solvent, the reaction temperature) and indicates the interactions between them. On the basis of these results, the synthesis has been scaled up by a factor of 20. Using a 2-L batch reactor combined with a high-throughput peristaltic pump, different-sized samples of CdSe nanocrystals with yields of 2-3 g per synthesis have been produced without sacrificing the narrow size distribution. In a similar setup, the gram-scale synthesis of CdSe/CdS/ZnS core/shell/shell nanocrystals exhibiting a fluorescence quantum yield of 81% and excellent resistance of the photoluminescence in presence of a fluorescent quencher (aromatic thiol) has been achieved.

PACS: 81.20.Ka, 81.07.Bc, 78.67.Bf

semiconductor nanocrystals; quantum dots; synthesis; experimental plan; fluorescence; scale-up; colloids