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Nanoparticle lattices and surfaces
The challenge of resolving the details of the surfaces or assemblies of colloidal semiconductor nanoparticles can be overcome if several characterization methods are used (see the Perspective by Boles and Talapin). Boneschanscher et al. examined honeycomb superlattices of lead selenide nanocrystals formed by the bonding of crystal faces using several methods, including high-resolution electron microscopy and tomography. The structure had octahedral symmetry with the nanocrystals distorted through “necking”: the expansion of the contact points between the nanocrystals. Zherebetskyy et al. used a combination of theoretical calculations and spectroscopic methods to study the surface layer of lead sulfide nanocrystals synthesized in water. In addition to the oleic acid groups that capped the nanocrystals, hydroxyl groups were present as well.
Controlling the structure of colloidal nanocrystals (NCs) is key to the generation of their complex functionality. This requires an understanding of the NC surface at the atomic level. The structure of colloidal PbS NCs passivated with oleic acid has been studied theoretically and experimentally. We show the existence of surface OH– groups, which play a key role in stabilizing the PbS(111) facets, consistent with x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy as well as other spectroscopic and chemical experiments. The role of water in the synthesis process is also revealed. Our model, along with existing observations of NC surface termination and passivation by ligands, helps to explain and predict the properties of NCs and their assemblies.