Living Nanocrystals: Synthesis of Precisely Defined Metal Oxide Nanocrystals Through a Continuous Growth Process
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Colloidal nanocrystals offer new and improved performance in applications as well as less environmental impact when compared to traditional device fabrication methods. The important properties that enable improved applications are a direct result of nanocrystal structure. While there have been many great advances in the production of colloidal nanocrystals over the past three decades, precise, atomic-level control of the size, composition, and structure of the inorganic core remains challenging. Rather than dictate these material aspects through traditional synthetic routes, this dissertation details the development and exploitation of a colloidal nanocrystal synthetic method inspired by polymerization reactions. Living polymerization reactions offer precise control of polymer size and structure and have tremendously advanced polymer science, allowing the intuitive production of polymers and block co-polymers of well-defined molecular weights. Similarly, living nanocrystal synthetic methods allow an enhanced level of structural control, granting the synthesis of binary, doped, and core/shell nanocrystals of well-defined size, composition, and structure. This improved control in turn grants enhanced nanocrystal property performance and deepens our understanding of structure/property relationships. This dissertation defines living nanocrystal growth and demonstrates the potential of the living methods in the colloidal production of oxide nanocrystals. After a brief introduction, living growth is defined and discussed in the context of synthetic prerequisites, attributes, and outcomes. Living growth is also compared to more traditional colloidal nanocrystal synthetic methods. The following chapters then demonstrate the precise control living approaches offer in three separate studies; the first highlights sub-nanometer control of nanocrystal size from 2-22+ nm in diameter. Next the improvement in nanocrystal composition is illustrated using several transition metal dopants into an oxide nanocrystal matrix at near thermodynamically allowed compositions. Additionally, precise radial dopant placement is demonstrated, which has striking implications for material properties. The radial position of tin in tin-doped indium oxide nanocrystals and the resulting differences on the localized surface plasmon resonance are discussed. Finally, future opportunities are reviewed. This dissertation includes previously published co-authored material.