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Controlled Assembly of Nanocrystal/Organic Composites


  Top view of a Berkeley Lab composite film, in which nanocrystals are partially embedded in a polymer matrix with a high degree of dispersion. This film illustrates the excellent control a researcher has over the exposure of the nanocrystals.  
  • Photovoltaic devices
  • Light emitting diodes (LEDs)
  • Biological Imaging
  • Structural composite or piezoelectric thin films
  • Sensing


  • Nanocrystal dispersion and aggregation can be easily controlled and characterized
  • Provides reproducible morphologies
  • If desired, some crystals can be left exposed in order to enable selective chemical reactions on their surfaces


A. Paul Alivisatos and colleagues at Berkeley Lab have developed a procedure for the reliable and reproducible formation of nanocrystal/polymer composite films where the dispersion and aggregation of the nanocrystals can be easily controlled and characterized. Traditional techniques of depositing a nanocrystal/polymer blend onto a substrate via drop casting, spin casting, or other common methods, yields films with morphologies that are irreproducible and difficult to characterize. Surfactants often have to be stripped for electronic accessibility which produces large scale aggregation. In the Berkeley Lab approach, the nanocrystals may be fully stripped of surfactant and the films still display optimal dispersion.

This invention allows for a high degree of control over the nanocrystal loading and ultimate film structure. A variety of nanocrystals, organic matrices, and substrates can be used and the nanocrystals can be of any shape.

Combining various organic and nanocrystal materials to make nanocrystal/polymer films via the Berkeley Lab method results in interesting and unique optical, electronic, and mechanical properties. These properties will be useful for developing improved photovoltaics, LEDs, structural composite or piezoelectric thin films, and sensing materials. The procedure might also apply to biological imaging.





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