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  • Concentration – Low concentrations should be used (absorbance<0.2 a.u.) to avoid effects such as self quenching.
  • Solvent – It is important to take into account the solvents used for the test and standard solutions. If the solvents used for both are the same then the comparison is trivial. However, if the solvents in the test and standard solutions are different, this difference needs to be accounted for. This is done by incorporating the solvent refractive indices in the ratio calculation.
  • Standard samples – The standard samples should be characterized thoroughly. In addition, the standard sample used should absorb at the excitation wavelength of the test sample.
  • Sample preparation – It is important that the cuvettes used are clean, scratch free and clear on all four sides. The solvents used must be of spectroscopic grade and should not absorb in the wavelength range.
  • Slit width – The slit widths for all measurements must be kept constant.

The quantum yield of the Group 12-16 semiconductor nanoparticles are affected by many factors such as the following.

  • Surface defects – The surface defects of semiconductor quantum dots occur in the form of unsatisfied valencies. Thus resulting in unwanted recombinations. These unwanted recombinations reduce the loss of energy through radiative decay, and thus reducing the fluorescence.
  • Surface ligands – If the surface ligand coverage is a 100%, there is a smaller chance of surface recombinations to occur.
  • Solvent polarity – If the solvent and the ligand have similar solvent polarities, the nanoparticles are more dispersed, reducing the loss of electrons through recombinations.

Qualitative information

Apart from quantum yield information, the relationship between intensity of fluorescence emission and wavelength, other useful qualitative information such as size distribution, shape of the particle and presence of surface defects can be obtained.

As shown in [link] , the shape of the plot of intensity versus wavelength is a Gaussian distribution. In [link] , the full width at half maximum (FWHM) is given by the difference between the two extreme values of the wavelength at which the photoluminescence intensity is equal to half its maximum value. From the full width half max (FWHM) of the fluorescence intensity Gaussian distribution, it is possible to determine qualitatively the size distribution of the sample. For a Group 12-16 quantum dot sample if the FWHM is greater than 30, the system is very polydisperse and has a large size distribution. It is desirable for all practical applications for the FWHM to be lesser than 30.

Emission spectra of CdSe QDs showing the full width half maximum (FWHM).

From the FWHM of the emission spectra, it is also possible to qualitatively get an idea if the particles are spherical or shaped. 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. The thickness of the arm or rod is responsible for the quantum effects in shaped particles. In the case of quantum dots, the particle is quantum confined in all dimensions. Thus, any size distribution during the synthesis of quantum dots greatly affects the emission spectra. As a result the FWHM of rods and tetrapods is much smaller as compared to a quantum dot. Hence, qualitatively it is possible to differentiate between quantum dots and other shaped particles.

Another indication of branched structures is the decrease in the intensity of fluorescence peaks. Quantum dots have very high fluorescence values as compared to branched particles, since they are quantum confined in all dimensions as compared to just 1 or 2 dimensions in the case of branched particles.

Fluorescence spectra of different group 12-16 semiconductor nanoparticles

The emission spectra of all Group 12-16 semiconductor nanoparticles are Gaussian curves as shown in [link] and [link] . The only difference between them is the band gap energy, and hence each of the Group 12-16 semiconductor nanoparticles fluoresce over different ranges of wavelengths

Cadmium selenide

Since its bulk band gap (1.74 eV, 712 nm) falls in the visible region cadmium Selenide (CdSe) is used in various applications such as solar cells, light emitting diodes, etc. Size evolving emission spectra of cadmium selenide is shown in [link] . Different sized CdSe particles have different colored fluorescence spectra. Since cadmium and selenide are known carcinogens and being nanoparticles are easily absorbed into the human body, there is some concern regarding these particles. However, CdSe coated with ZnS can overcome all the harmful biological effects, making cadmium selenide nanoparticles one of the most popular 12-16 semiconductor nanoparticle.

Size evolving CdSe emission spectra. Adapted from http://www.physics.mq.edu.au.

A combination of the absorbance and emission spectra is shown in [link] for four different sized particles emitting green, yellow, orange, and red fluorescence.

Absorption and emission spectra of CdSe quantum dots. Adapted from G. Schmid, Nanoparticles: From Theory to Application , Wiley-VCH, Weinham (2004).

Cadmium telluride

Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) has a band gap of 1.44 eV and thus absorbs in the infra red region. The size evolving CdTe emission spectra is shown in [link] .

Size evolution spectra of CdTe quantum dots.

Adding shells to qds

Capping a core quantum dot with a semiconductor material with a wider bandgap than the core, reduces the nonradiative recombination and results in brighter fluorescence emission. Quantum yields are affected by the presences of free surface charges, surface defects and crystal defects, which results in unwanted recombinations. The addition of a shell reduces the nonradiative transitions and majority of the electrons relax radiatively to the valence band. In addition, the shell also overcomes some of the surface defects.

For the CdSe-core/ZnS-shell systems exhibit much higher quantum yield as compared to core CdSe quantum dots as seen in [link] .

Emission spectra of core CdSe only and CdSe-core/ZnS-shell.


  • A. T. R. Williams, S. A. Winfield, and J. N. Miller, Analyst , 1983, 108 , 1067 .
  • G. Schmid, Nanoparticles: From Theory to Application , Wiley-VCH, Weinham, (2004).
  • J. Y. Hariba, A Guide to Recording Fluorescence Quantum Yield , Jobin Yvon Hariba Limited, Stanmore (2003).
  • C. Qing Zhu, P. Wang, X. Wang, and Y. Li, Nanoscale Res. Lett. ., 2008, 3 , 213.

Questions & Answers

anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
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
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply

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