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Nano Lett. 2013 May 8;13(5):2016-23. doi: 10.1021/nl400715n. Epub 2013 Apr 3.

Improving the catalytic activity of semiconductor nanocrystals through selective domain etching.

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The Center for Photochemical Sciences, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio 43403, USA.


Colloidal chemistry offers an assortment of synthetic tools for tuning the shape of semiconductor nanocrystals. While many nanocrystal architectures can be obtained directly via colloidal growth, other nanoparticle morphologies require alternative processing strategies. Here, we show that chemical etching of colloidal nanoparticles can facilitate the realization of nanocrystal shapes that are topologically inaccessible by hot-injection techniques alone. The present methodology is demonstrated by synthesizing a two-component CdSe/CdS nanoparticle dimer, constructed in a way that both CdSe and CdS semiconductor domains are exposed to the external environment. This structural morphology is highly desirable for catalytic applications as it enables both reductive and oxidative reactions to occur simultaneously on dissimilar nanoparticle surfaces. Hydrogen production tests confirmed the improved catalytic activity of CdSe/CdS dimers, which was enhanced 3-4 times upon etching treatment. We expect that the demonstrated application of etching to shaping of colloidal heteronanocrystals can become a common methodology in the synthesis of charge-separating nanocrystals, leading to advanced nanoparticles architectures for applications in areas of photocatalysis, photovoltaics, and light detection.

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