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Empirical equations can be determined by fitting experimental data of extinction coefficient per mole of Group 12-16 semiconductor quantum dots, at 250 °C, to the diameter of the quantum dot, [link] , [link] , and [link] .

The concentration of the quantum dots can then be then be determined by using the Beer Lambert law as given by [link] .

Qualitative information

Apart from quantitative data such as the size of the quantum dots and concentration of the quantum dots, a lot of qualitative information can be derived from the absorption spectra.

Size distribution

If there is a very narrow size distribution, the first exciton peak will be very sharp ( [link] ). This is because due to the narrow size distribution, the differences in band gap between different sized particles will be very small and hence most of the electrons will get excited over a smaller range of wavelengths. In addition, if there is a narrow size distribution, the higher exciton peaks are also seen clearly.

Narrow emission spectra (a) and broad emission spectra (b) of CdSe QDs.

Shaped particles

In the case of a spherical quantum dot, in all dimensions, the particle is quantum confined ( [link] ). In the case of a nanorod, whose length is not in the quantum regime, the quantum effects are determined by the width of the nanorod. Similar is the case in tetrapods or four legged structures. The quantum effects are determined by the thickness of the arms. During the synthesis of the shaped particles, the thickness of the rod or the arm of the tetrapod does not vary among the different particles, as much as the length of the rods or arms changes. Since the thickness of the rod or tetrapod is responsible for the quantum effects, the absorption spectrum of rods and tetrapods has sharper features as compared to a quantum dot. Hence, qualitatively it is possible to differentiate between quantum dots and other shaped particles.

Different shaped nanoparticles with the arrows indicating the dimension where quantum confinement effects are observed.

Crystal lattice information

In the case of CdSe semiconductor quantum dots it has been shown that it is possible to estimate the crystal lattice of the quantum dot from the adsorption spectrum ( [link] ), and hence determine if the structure is zinc blend or wurtzite.

Zinc blende and wurtzite CdSe absorption spectra. Adapted from J. Jasieniak, C. Bullen, J. van Embden, and P. Mulvaney, J. Phys. Chem. B , 2005, 109 , 20665.

Uv-vis absorption spectra of group 12-16 semiconductor nanoparticles

Cadmium selenide

Cadmium selenide (CdSe) is one of the most popular Group 12-16 semiconductors. This is mainly because the band gap (712 nm or 1.74 eV) energy of CdSe. Thus, the nanoparticles of CdSe can be engineered to have a range of band gaps throughout the visible range, corresponding to the major part of the energy that comes from the solar spectrum. This property of CdSe along with its fluorescing properties is used in a variety of applications such as solar cells and light emitting diodes. Though cadmium and selenium are known carcinogens, the harmful biological effects of CdSe can be overcome by coating the CdSe with a layer of zinc sulfide. Thus CdSe, can also be used as bio-markers, drug-delivery agents, paints and other applications.

A typical absorption spectrum of narrow size distribution wurtzite CdSe quantum dot is shown in [link] . A size evolving absorption spectra is shown in [link] . However, a complete analysis of the sample is possible only by also studying the fluorescence properties of CdSe.

Wurtzite CdSe quantum dot. Adapted from X. Zhong, Y. Feng, and Y. Zhang, J. Phys. Chem. C , 2007, 111 , 526.
Size evolving absorption spectra of CdSe quantum dots.

Cadmium telluride (cdte)

Cadmium telluride has a band gap of 1.44 eV (860 nm) and as such it absorbs in the infrared region. Like CdSe, the sizes of CdTe can be engineered to have different band edges and thus, different absorption spectra as a function of wavelength. A typical CdTe spectra is shown in [link] . Due to the small bandgap energy of CdTe, it can be used in tandem with CdSe to absorb in a greater part of the solar spectrum.

Size evolving absorption spectra of CdTe quantum dots from 3 nm to 7 nm. Adapted from C. Qi-Fan, W. Wen-Xing, G. Ying-Xin, L. Meng-Ying, X. Shu-Kun and Z. Xiu-Juan, Chin. J. Anal. Chem. , 2007, 35 , 135.

Other group 12-16 semiconductor systems

[link] shows the bulk band gap of other Group 12-16 semiconductor systems. The band gap of ZnS falls in the UV region, while those of ZnSe, CdS, and ZnTe fall in the visible region.

Bulk band gaps of different Group 12-16 semiconductors.
Material Band gap (eV) Wavelength (nm)
ZnS 3.61 343.2
ZnSe 2.69 460.5
ZnTe 2.39 518.4
CdS 2.49 497.5
CdSe 1.74 712.1
CdTe 1.44 860.3

Heterostructures of group 12-16 semiconductor systems

It is often desirable to have a combination of two Group 12-16 semiconductor system quantum heterostructures of different shapes like dots and tetrapods, for applications in solar cells, bio-markers, etc. Some of the most interesting systems are ZnS shell-CdSe core systems, such as the CdSe/CdS rods and tetrapods.

[link] shows a typical absorption spectra of CdSe-ZnS core-shell system. This system is important because of the drastically improved fluorescence properties because of the addition of a wide band gap ZnS shell than the core CdSe. In addition with a ZnS shell, CdSe becomes bio-compatible.

Absorption spectra of CdSe core, ZnS shell. Adapted from C. Qing-Zhu, P. Wang, X. Wang and Y. Li, Nanoscale Res. Lett ., 2008, 3 , 213.

A CdSe seed, CdS arm nanorods system is also interesting. Combining CdSe and CdS in a single nanostructure creates a material with a mixed dimensionality where holes are confined to CdSe while electrons can move freely between CdSe and CdS phases.


  • S. V. Gapoenko, Optical Properties of Semiconductor Nanocrystals , Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2003).
  • W. W. Yu, L. Qu, W. Guo, and X. Peng, Chem. Mater. , 2003, 15 , 2854.
  • J. Jasieniak, C. Bullen, J. van Embden, and P. Mulvaney, J. Phys. Chem. B , 2005, 109 , 20665.
  • X. Zhong, Y. Feng, and Y. Zhang, J. Phys. Chem. C , 2007, 111 , 526.
  • D. V. Talapin, J. H. Nelson, E. V. Shevchenko, S. Aloni, B. Sadtler, and A. P. Alivisatos, Nano Lett. , 2007, 7 , 2951.
  • C. Qing-Zhu, P. Wang, X. Wang, and Y. Li, Nanoscale Res. Lett. , 2008, 3 , 213.
  • C. Qi-Fan, W. Wen-Xing, G. Ying-Xin, L. Meng-Ying, X. Shu-Kun, and Z. Xiu-Juan, Chin. J. Anal. Chem. , 2007, 35 , 135.

Questions & Answers

What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply

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