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The surface science of nanocrystals

An Erratum to this article was published on 24 February 2016

This article has been updated

Abstract

All nanomaterials share a common feature of large surface-to-volume ratio, making their surfaces the dominant player in many physical and chemical processes. Surface ligands — molecules that bind to the surface — are an essential component of nanomaterial synthesis, processing and application. Understanding the structure and properties of nanoscale interfaces requires an intricate mix of concepts and techniques borrowed from surface science and coordination chemistry. Our Review elaborates these connections and discusses the bonding, electronic structure and chemical transformations at nanomaterial surfaces. We specifically focus on the role of surface ligands in tuning and rationally designing properties of functional nanomaterials. Given their importance for biomedical (imaging, diagnostics and therapeutics) and optoelectronic (light-emitting devices, transistors, solar cells) applications, we end with an assessment of application-targeted surface engineering.

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Figure 1: Capping-layer structure.
Figure 2: Chemistry of ligand binding.
Figure 3: Effect of ligands on nanocrystal surface states.
Figure 4: Effect of surface ligands on electronic states within the nanocrystal inorganic core.
Figure 5: Modular design of surface ligands for biocompatible nanomaterials.
Figure 6: Nanocrystals for device applications.

Change history

  • 27 January 2016

    In the version of this Review Article originally published, the righthand panel of Fig. 1b was incorrect. This error has been corrected in the online versions of the Review Article.

  • 24 February 2016

    Nature Materials 15, 141–153 (2016); published online 22 January 2016; corrected after print 27 January 2016. In the version of this Review Article originally published, the righthand panel of Fig. 1b was incorrect. The correct Figure is shown below and this error has been corrected in the online versions of the Review Article.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the National Science Foundation (Award DMR-1310398) and DOD Office of Naval Research (ONR Grant N00014-13-1-0490).

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Correspondence to Dmitri V. Talapin.

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Boles, M., Ling, D., Hyeon, T. et al. The surface science of nanocrystals. Nature Mater 15, 141–153 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat4526

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