Composition-tunable alloyed semiconductor nanocrystals

Acc Chem Res. 2010 May 18;43(5):621-30. doi: 10.1021/ar900242r.


The ability to engineer the band gap energy of semiconductor nanocrystals has led to the development of nanomaterials with many new exciting properties and applications. Band gap engineering has thus proven to be an effective tool in the design of new nanocrystal-based semiconductor devices. As reported in numerous publications over the last three decades, tuning the size of nanocrystalline semiconductors is one way of adjusting the band gap energy. On the other hand, research on band gap engineering via control of nanocrystal composition, which is achieved by adjusting the constituent stoichiometries of alloyed semiconductors, is still in its infancy. In this Account, we summarize recent research on colloidal alloyed semiconductor nanocrystals that exhibit novel composition-tunable properties. Alloying of two semiconductors at the nanometer scale produces materials that display properties distinct not only from the properties of their bulk counterparts but also from those of their parent semiconductors. As a result, alloyed nanocrystals possess additional properties that are composition-dependent aside from the properties that emerge due to quantum confinement effects. For example, although the size-dependent emission wavelength of the widely studied CdSe nanocrystals can be continuously tuned to cover almost the entire visible spectrum, the near-infrared (NIR) region is far outside its spectral range. By contrast, certain alloy compositions of nanocrystalline CdSe(x)Te(1-x), an alloy of CdSe and CdTe, can efficiently emit light in the NIR spectral window. These NIR-emitting nanocrystals are potentially useful in several biomedical applications. In addition, highly stable nanocrystals formed by alloying CdSe with ZnSe (i.e., Zn(x)Cd(1-x)Se) emit blue light with excellent efficiency, a property seldom achieved by the parent binary systems. As a result, these materials can be used in short-wavelength optoelectronic devices. In the future, we foresee new discoveries related to these interesting nanoalloys. In particular, colloidal semiconductor nanoalloys that exhibit composition-dependent magnetic properties have yet to be reported. Further studies of the alloying mechanism are also needed to develop improved synthetic strategies for the preparation of these alloyed nanomaterials.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alloys / chemistry*
  • Chemistry Techniques, Analytical
  • Energy-Generating Resources
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Nanoparticles / classification
  • Optical Phenomena
  • Semiconductors* / classification


  • Alloys