Synthesis, characterisation and applications of group IV nanocrystals

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Linehan, Keith
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University College Cork
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Group IV materials such as silicon nanocrystals (Si NCs) and carbon quantum dots (CQDs) have received great attention as new functional materials with unique physical/chemical properties that are not found in the bulk material. This thesis reports the synthesis and characterisation of both types of nanocrystal and their application as fluorescence probes for the detection of metal ions. In chapter 2, a simple method is described for the size controlled synthesis of Si NCs within inverse micelles having well defined core diameters ranging from 2 to 6 nm using inert atmospheric synthetic methods. In addition, ligands with different molecular structures were utilised to reduce inter-nanocrystal attraction forces and improve the stability of the NC dispersions in water and a variety of organic solvents. Regulation of the Si NCs size is achieved by variation of the surfactants and addition rates, resulting high quality NCs with standard deviations (σ = Δd/d) of less than 10 %. Large scale production of highly mondisperse Si NC was also successfully demonstrated. In chapter 3, a simple solution phase synthesis of size monodisperse carbon quantum dots (CQDs) using a room temperature microemulsion strategy is demonstrated. The CQDs are synthesized in reverse micelles via the reduction of carbon tetrachloride using a hydride reducing agent. CQDs may be functionalised with covalently attached alkyl or amine monolayers, rendering the CQDs dispersible in wide range of polar or non-polar solvents. Regulation of the CQDs size was achieved by utilizing hydride reducing agents of different strengths. The CQDs possess a high photoluminescence quantum yield in the visible region and exhibit excellent photostability. In chapter 4, a simple and rapid assay for detection of Fe3+ ions was developed, based on quenching of the strong blue-green Si NC photoluminescence. The detection method showed a high selectivity, with only Fe3+ resulting in strong quenching of the fluorescence signal. No quenching of the fluorescence signal was induced by Fe2+ ions, allowing for solution phase discrimination between the same ion in different charge states. The optimised sensor system showed a sensitive detection range from 25- 900 μM and a limit of detection of 20.8 μM
Silicon , Nanocrystals , Sensor
Linehan, K. 2014. Synthesis, characterisation and applications of group IV nanocrystals. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.