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Biosynthesis of cadmium sulphide quantum semiconductor crystallites


NANOMETRE-SCALE semiconductor quantum crystallites exhibit size-dependent and discrete excited electronic states which occur at energies higher than the band gap of the corresponding bulk solid1–4. These crystallites are too small to have continuous energy bands, even though a bulk crystal structure is present. The onset of such quantum properties sets a fundamental limit to device miniaturization in microelectronics5. Structures with either one, two or all three dimensions on the nanometer scale are of particular interest in solid state physics6. We report here our discovery of the biosynthesis of quantum crystallites in yeasts Candida glabrata and Schizosaccharomyces pombe, cultured in the presence of cad-mium salts. Short chelating peptides of general structure (γ-Glu-Cys)n-Gly control the nucleation and growth of CdS crystallites to peptide-capped intracellular particles of diameter 20 Å. These quantum CdS crystallites are more monodisperse than CdS par-ticles synthesized chemically. X-ray data indicate that, at this small size, the CdS structure differs from that of bulk CdS and tends towards a six-coordinate rock-salt structure.

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Dameron, C., Reese, R., Mehra, R. et al. Biosynthesis of cadmium sulphide quantum semiconductor crystallites. Nature 338, 596–597 (1989).

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