Mechanistic Insights into Size-Focused Growth of Indium Phosphide Nanocrystals in the Presence of Trace Water

Ajit Vikram, Arwa Zahid, Saket S. Bhargava, Logan P. Keating, Andre Sutrisno, Ankur Khare, Peter Trefonas, Moonsub Shim, Paul J.A. Kenis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Indium phosphide (InP) nanocrystals have emerged as a viable alternative to heavy metal-based colloidal quantum dots for optoelectronic applications. Traditionally, the presence of trace amounts of water during the synthesis of colloidal quantum dots is considered an undesired impurity because it prevents or slows down colloidal growth and alters the surface properties. Here, we report that fine-tuning the amount of trace water is the key for achieving size-focused growth of monodisperse InP nanocrystals synthesized using aminophosphine precursors. Using solid-state and solution nuclear magnetic resonance, we investigated the role of trace amounts of water in surface oxidation and precursor conversion reactions. Molecular insights from UV-vis spectroscopy and NMR revealed a profound contrast between the growth rates of the nanocrystals upon the addition of water to the reaction system. We demonstrate that by addition of a specific amount of water, the reactivity of the phosphorous precursor can be tuned to enable a constant supply of monomer throughout the reaction. Under an optimal precursor conversion rate, a size-focused growth behavior that is rare for InP nanocrystals is observed, suggesting the presence of an artificial LaMer-like growth regime.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3577-3584
Number of pages8
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 28 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


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