The photoluminescent (PL) properties and zeta potential of green-emitting CdTe nanocrystals (diameter: 3 nm) capped with a stabilizing surfactant, thioglycolic acid (TGA), have been investigated as a function of pH of the aqueous solution. The green PL intensity reached the maximum at pH5.1 and was somewhat lower in the pH range of 6–10, which was similar to the previously reported result. However, when the pH was at and below 4, the green PL intensity decreased drastically. The relative ratio of the dissociation form of the carboxyl group of TGA showed a large diminution at and below pH5 accompanied by a significant decrease of the absolute value of zeta potential. Since the absolute value of zeta potential reflects the stability of nanocrystals, the results obtained shows that the TGA-capped CdTe nanocrystals are stable only in basic to neutral regions and that the agglomeration of the nanocrystals in acidic range reflects the transition from the dissociated (charged) form to the non-dissociated (non-charged) form of a carboxyl group in TGA. Encapsulation of nanocrystals in glass is a promising way to further improve the long-term photostability of nanocrystals. Therefore, we chose an alkoxide having an amino group for a matrix for the encapsulation. The amino group has a good affinity to TGA as well as promotes the sol-gel reaction. As the result, the CdTe nanocrystals have been dispersed finely in the glass matrix without a deterioration of PL intensity.
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This study was supported by the Nanotechnology Glass Project as a part of the “Nanotechnology Materials” Program supported by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), Japan.
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Ando, M., Li, C. & Murase, N. Photoluminescence Properties and Zeta Potential of Water-Dispersible CdTe Nanocrystals. MRS Online Proceedings Library 789, 322–327 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-789-N6.4