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Keywords:

  • silicon nanocrystals;
  • optoelectronic properties;
  • size-dependence;
  • organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs);
  • biomedical fluorescence imaging

Abstract

Nanomaterials are becoming increasingly widespread in consumer technologies, but there is global concern about the toxicity of nanomaterials to humans and the environment as they move rapidly from the research laboratory to the market place. With this in mind, it makes sense to intensify the nanochemistry community's global research effort on the synthesis and study of nanoparticles that are purportedly “green”. One potentially green nanoparticle that seems to be a most promising candidate in this context is silicon, whose appealing optical, optoelectronic, photonic, and biomedical attributes are recently gaining much attention. In this paper, we outline some of our recent contributions to the development of the growing field of silicon nanocrystals (ncSi) in order to stress the importance of continued study of ncSi as a green alternative to the archetypal semiconductor nanocrystals like CdSe, InAs, and PbS. While a variety of developments in synthetic methods, characterization techniques, and applications have been reported in recent years, the ability to prepare colloidally-stable monodisperse ncSi samples may prove to have the largest impact on the field, as it opens the door to study and access the tunable size-dependent properties of ncSi. Here, we summarize our recent contributions in size-separation methods to achieve monodisperse samples, the characterization of size-dependant property trends, the development of ncSi applications, and their potential impact on the promising future of ncSi.