Researchers from the National University of Singapore have created a new scalable and low-cost method for building quantum dots. These dots, which have a wide range of applications in fields such as energy storage devices, biomedicine, catalysts, sensors, and photodetectors, possess impressive electronic and optical properties. This new system for fabricating them could help to make their use widespread throughout a diverse range of different fields.
The primary material used in these quantum dots are two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenides nanomaterials. Molybdenite is one commonly used material, which is similar in many ways to graphene. Quantum dots are actually the smaller counterpart of these materials. However, synthesizing the necessary materials can prove challenging and costly, making them a less than ideal option for many applications.
Scientists believe their new method of fabricating quantum dots could change all that. Besides making for fast and cost-effective engineering of the dots, researchers can actually alter and adjust the properties of the material to make them more effective for different applications, depending on the specific needs of the project at hand.
The traditional method for synthesizing these nanomaterials involves a top-down approach that is both lengthy and costly. Mineral ores containing the needed nanomaterials are collected and exhaustively broken down using either chemical or physical means. Although this method is extremely precise, it’s not exactly scalable — and separating fragments of nanomaterials demands multiple stages of purification. Additionally, the old method makes creating a consistent size extremely challenging, as the necessary nanomaterials are incredibly tiny.
The new method changes all that. Engineers designed a bottom-up synthesis strategy that allows them to easily and consistently build the quantum dots. Additionally, this method is less expensive and far more scaleable than traditional methods, which rely on the top-down method.
The quantum dots are synthesized by taking chalcogen precursors and causing them to react with transition metal oxides or chlorides. The entire system is placed under specific aqueous and temperature conditions which aid in the production of the quantum dots.
Scientists hope to use this technology to aid in a number of biomedical pursuits, including photodynamic therapy which can use organic compounds to kill deadly cancer cells. Researchers also believe their work can aid in creating advanced electronic components as well as the next generation of television and computer screens.