Crystal symmetry breaking and vacancies in colloidal lead chalcogenide quantum dots

Federica Bertolotti, Dmitry N. Dirin, Maria Ibáñez, Frank Krumeich, Antonio Cervellino, Ruggero Frison, Oleksandr Voznyy, Edward H. Sargent, Maksym V. Kovalenko, Antonietta Guagliardi, Norberto Masciocchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Size and shape tunability and low-cost solution processability make colloidal lead chalcogenide quantum dots (QDs) an emerging class of building blocks for innovative photovoltaic, thermoelectric and optoelectronic devices. Lead chalcogenide QDs are known to crystallize in the rock-salt structure, although with very different atomic order and stoichiometry in the core and surface regions; however, there exists no convincing prior identification of how extreme downsizing and surface-induced ligand effects influence structural distortion. Using forefront X-ray scattering techniques and density functional theory calculations, here we have identified that, at sizes below 8 nm, PbS and PbSe QDs undergo a lattice distortion with displacement of the Pb sublattice, driven by ligand-induced tensile strain. The resulting permanent electric dipoles may have implications on the oriented attachment of these QDs. Evidence is found for a Pb-deficient core and, in the as-synthesized QDs, for a rhombic dodecahedral shape with nonpolar {110} facets. On varying the nature of the surface ligands, differences in lattice strains are found.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)987-994
Number of pages8
JournalNature materials
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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