Prof. Richard L. Brutchey
Department of Chemistry, University of Southern California, USA
Colloidal nanocrystals possess high surface area-to-volume ratios; as a result, many nanocrystal properties are heavily influenced by their surfaces. At these surfaces exists a complex interface between the inorganic solid (governed by the crystal structure and particle morphology) and organic ligands. The organic ligands play a key role in controlling nucleation and growth, passivating under-coordinated surface sites, and providing steric stabilization for solvent dispersibility. Depending on the particular application of the nanocrystal, the native organic ligands may then need to be removed or exchanged. We use a complement of NMR spectroscopic techniques to understand the nature of the nanocrystal surface and ligand binding. Then, using principles of inorganic coordination chemistry, we rationally enact ligand exchange reactions on these surfaces to maximize nanocrystal functionality. This talk will briefly discuss the surface chemistry of three different platforms. (1) I will discuss how we experimentally developed an atomistic picture of perovskite nanocrystal surface termination, and then used that information to better understand how common surface treatments can “heal” halide perovskite nanocrystal surfaces. (2) I will discuss how different -donating, L-type ligands were installed on the surface of metal phosphide nanocrystals, and how they affected the hydrogen evolving ability of these electrocatalysts. (3) I will discuss a new strategy for thermally activating metal carbide nanocrystal CO2 reduction catalysts using labile ligands that decompose at significantly lower temperatures than the native ligands. This circumvents issues commonly encountered with high-temperature thermolysis (coking) or acid treatments (etching, poisoning) that are used to activate nanocrystal catalysts.