Silicon nanocrystals


Alkyl-capped silicon nanocrystal - copyright Materials Modelling Group
Illustration of the highest-occupied molecular orbital of a 1nm diameter silicon nanocrystal capped with a C2H6 monolayer

Studies into the properties of silicon nanocrystals are an active research field within the Group. Nanocrystals (or quantum dots) are synthesized through via 'top-down' techniques from bulk nanoporous silicon and bound by an alkyl capping layer. From a combination of small-angle x-ray scattering (SAXS), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), and atomic force microscopy (AFM) their diameters are aprroximately 2.2 ± 0.4 nm.

Current research projects investigate their luminescent and electronic and structural properties with view to utilising them as cellular and genomic probes in biological and medical applications through attchment to DNA.

Recently, with the Chemical Nanosciences Group, we have successfully evaporated silicon nanocrystals at low temperatures (~200 °C) in an ultra-high vacuum environment, and collected the resulting vapour onto various solid substrates. This behaviour may be useful for the controlled preparation of films of quantum-confined silicon structures with a variety potential applications in industry.


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