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Annu Rev Phys Chem. 2007;58:409-31.

Highly fluorescent noble-metal quantum dots.

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  • 1School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and The Petit Institute of Bioengineering and Bioscience, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332-0400, USA.


Highly fluorescent, water-soluble, few-atom noble-metal quantum dots have been created that behave as multielectron artificial atoms with discrete, size-tunable electronic transitions throughout the visible and near infrared. These molecular metals exhibit highly polarizable transitions and scale in size according to the simple relation E(Fermi)/N(1/3), predicted by the free-electron model of metallic behavior. This simple scaling indicates that fluorescence arises from intraband transitions of free electrons, and these conduction-electron transitions are the low-number limit of the plasmon-the collective dipole oscillations occurring when a continuous density of states is reached. Providing the missing link between atomic and nanoparticle behavior in noble metals, these emissive, water-soluble Au nanoclusters open new opportunities for biological labels, energy-transfer pairs, and light-emitting sources in nanoscale optoelectronics.

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