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Surface chemistry and buried interfaces in all-inorganic nanocrystalline solids

Nature Nanotechnology (2018) | Download Citation


Semiconducting nanomaterials synthesized using wet chemical techniques play an important role in emerging optoelectronic and photonic technologies. Controlling the surface chemistry of the nano building blocks and their interfaces with ligands is one of the outstanding challenges for the rational design of these systems. We present an integrated theoretical and experimental approach to characterize, at the atomistic level, buried interfaces in solids of InAs nanoparticles capped with Sn2S64– ligands. These prototypical nanocomposites are known for their promising transport properties and unusual negative photoconductivity. We found that inorganic ligands dissociate on InAs to form a surface passivation layer. A nanocomposite with unique electronic and transport properties is formed, that exhibits type II heterojunctions favourable for exciton dissociation. We identified how the matrix density, sulfur content and specific defects may be designed to attain desirable electronic and transport properties, and we explain the origin of the measured negative photoconductivity of the nanocrystalline solids.

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V. Kamysbayev helped with the elemental analysis of the samples. V.S. was primarily supported by the University of Chicago Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, funded by NSF under award no. DMR-1420709. G.G., E.J. and D.T. were supported by MICCoM as part of the Computational Materials Sciences Program funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences (BES), Materials Sciences and Engineering Division (5J-30161-0010A). E.S. and S.W. were supported by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the NanoMatFutur programme, grant no. 13N12972. Supercomputer time provided by NERSC (project no. 35687) and the Max-Planck Computing and Data Facility, Garching, is acknowledged.

Author information


  1. Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH, Düsseldorf, Germany

    • Emilio Scalise
    •  & Stefan Wippermann
  2. Department of Chemistry and James Franck Institute, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

    • Vishwas Srivastava
    • , Eric Janke
    • , Dmitri Talapin
    •  & Giulia Galli
  3. Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont, IL, USA

    • Dmitri Talapin
    •  & Giulia Galli
  4. Institute for Molecular Engineering, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

    • Giulia Galli


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S.W. and G.G. conceived and designed the calculations. E.S. performed the calculations. D.T. conceived and designed the experiments. V.S. and E.J. performed the experiments. The manuscript was written by D.T., G.G. and S.W. All the authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Stefan Wippermann.

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