Surfactant-controlled polymerization of semiconductor clusters to quantum dots through competing step-growth and living chain-growth mechanisms

Christopher M. Evans, Alyssa M. Love, Emily A. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Citations (Scopus)


This article reports control of the competition between step-growth and living chain-growth polymerization mechanisms in the formation of cadmium chalcogenide colloidal quantum dots (QDs) from CdSe(S) clusters by varying the concentration of anionic surfactant in the synthetic reaction mixture. The growth of the particles proceeds by step-addition from initially nucleated clusters in the absence of excess phosphinic or carboxylic acids, which adsorb as their anionic conjugate bases, and proceeds indirectly by dissolution of clusters, and subsequent chain-addition of monomers to stable clusters (Ostwald ripening) in the presence of excess phosphinic or carboxylic acid. Fusion of clusters by step-growth polymerization is an explanation for the consistent observation of so-called "magic-sized" clusters in QD growth reactions. Living chain-addition (chain addition with no explicit termination step) produces QDs over a larger range of sizes with better size dispersity than step-addition. Tuning the molar ratio of surfactant to Se2-(S 2-), the limiting ionic reagent, within the living chain-addition polymerization allows for stoichiometric control of QD radius without relying on reaction time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17298-17305
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number41
Publication statusPublished - Oct 17 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry

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