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Results ■ Scientific Highlights

Scientific Highlights

Shape chemistry and Photoluminescence Evaluation of Colloidal CdTe Quantum Disks

Fluorescent nanocrystals are currently being applied in lasers or displays, and offer exciting prospects for future photonics such as quantum emitters. The nanocrystal shape plays an important role in these applications. Flat CdTe quantum disks with high fluorescence efficiency therefore provide an interesting possibility to explore the shape- and crystal structure-dependent fluorescence properties of semiconductor nanocrystals. We synthesized these CdTe semiconductor quantum disks from disk-shaped Cu2Te nanocrystals via cation exchange, and measured their photoluminescence (PL) spectral properties, quantum efficiencies and lifetimes. 

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Magnetic-Fluorescent nanobeads for tumor cell targeting and sorting

The early diagnosis of tumors, i.e. the detection in biological liquids of low concentrations of tumor markers or cells, is a challenge that can be tackled by developing magnetic-fluorescent nanotools for cell/tumor marker sorting. A magnetic-fluorescent nano-system would perform at the same time separation and detection of cells or analytes while its nanoscale size would offer higher surface to volume ratio, thus higher sensitivity should be achieved. In this view we have recently reported a procedure to cluster superparamagnetic nanoparticles into polymer nanobeads. The diameter of the nanobeads can be controlled in a wide range between 40 and 400 nm. As a further step, we have now developed a procedure to aggregate together magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles and fluorescent quantum dots.

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pH-responsive nanogels copolymerized with inorganic nanoparticles for drug delivery and sensor applications

Nanostructures based on stimuli-responsive polymer and inorganic nanocrystals such as magnetic, fluorescent or metallic nanoparticles allow the development of multifunctional objects able to function as stimuli-responsive drug carriers and at the same time, acting as optical or magnetic probe thanks to the inclusion of inorganic nanocrystals within the same nanostructures. The presence of gold or magnetic nanocrystals would allow also the exploitation of such system as heat agents in thermal ablation therapy for the tumor treatment.

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Self-organization of nanoparticles on device-scale areas

Organisation of spherical nanoparticles in three-dimensional superstructures is well advanced and many beautiful examples exist for binary, ternary and quasicrystalline superlattices. The formation of superstructures of shape-controlled nanoparticles is still at a very elementary level. However, our Department has developed various assembly techniques for nanorods, which exploit for example depletion forces and the formation of liquid crystalline phases at high volume fractions of nanoparticles.

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Colloidal Nanoparticles with tunable plasmonic response in the near-infrared

Many types of fluorescent semiconductor nanoparticles are available nowadays such that the whole region of the optical spectrum from deep ultraviolet (UV) to several microns in the infrared (IR) can be covered (depending on the target application). However only a handful of metals showing useful plasmonic properties are available. Among these metals the most exploited are Ag, Au, Cu and Pt and mainly in the visible range and in the UV. Furthermore, systematic investigations of the IR response were reported mainly for Au-based nanostructures.

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Hierarchical Self-assembly of nanocrystals

Fabricating new materials by self-assembly of nanoscale building blocks is one of the goals of modern materials science. Our Department recently synthesized a particular type of branched nanocrystal formed by a seed from which eight pods departed symmetrically, i.e. an “octapod” (its shape was determined by using tomographic reconstruction in the STEM).

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